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US stocks rise on economic data

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US stocks rise on economic data

US stocks advanced for a third consecutive day as market participants weighed jobless claims and non-manufacturing activity. According to the Department of Labor, fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week than the previous, likely a reflection of what’s to come Friday when the Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report. Wall Street expects US payrolls to have risen by 180,000 in August. Jobless claims in August declined to their lowest levels since 2007. Market participants will likely treat Friday’s jobs reports as the determining factor whether or not the Federal Reserve will begin scaling back its monthly asset purchases in September.

Bolstering the market’s rally was a separate report from the Institute of Supply Management, which showed the American services industry expanded at an accelerated rate last month. The August reading of 58.6 is the highest the index has ever produced. In total, 16 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in August, led by rising demand and strong momentum in the retail and wholesale sectors. In total, 11 of the 13 indices captured in the ISM survey reported growth over the previous month. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index grew for the 49th consecutive month, advancing 1.8 percentage points to 62.2 percent. The Employment index rose 3.8 percentage points to 57 percent, indicating the 13th consecutive month of employment growth for non-manufacturing industries.

The benchmark indices continued their rally Thursday, led by the NASDAQ Composite. Fresh off a one percent gain on Wednesday, the NASDAQ jumped more than a quarter percent to 3,658.78. The Standard & Poor’s 500 advanced another 0.12 percent to 1,655.08. The S&P 500 has advanced more than 1.2 percent over the previous five days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 6.61 points to 14,937.50, edging closer to the 15,000 level. Trading volume in S&P 500 stocks was around 6 percent below the 30-day average.

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