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Thursday Morning Business Brief

April 3, 2014, 5:35 AM

Thursday Morning Business Brief

Reports that U.S. companies increased hiring at a rapid pace last month and factory orders rose in February are further proof to many investors that the economy is poised for increased growth this year. The positive reports pushed stocks higher yesterday. The S&P 500 index rose five points to 1,890. The Dow climbed 40 to 16,573. The Nasdaq rose 8 1/2 points to 4,276. Futures point to another day of opening gains.

  • International stock markets were mostly higher today as investors took heart from new stimulus in China and evidence of stronger U.S. hiring. Gains in early European trading were more modest than Asian markets because of European Central Bank deliberations. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $99.50 a barrel.
  • Investors are hoping the government's weekly jobless claims report is positive and will help the market climb higher today. The Commerce Department will also release international trade data for February. Other reports due out today are the weekly mortgage rates report from Freddie Mac and the Institute for Supply Management's service sector index for March.
  • China's leaders have unveiled a mini-stimulus aimed at shoring up sputtering growth in the world's No. 2 economy. Under the measures announced by Premier Li Keqiang (lee kuh-TYAHNG'), small businesses will get bigger tax breaks, social housing will be built to replace shantytowns and railway construction will be sped up. It comes as signs mount that China's economy continues to slow, raising fears it may expand less than the 7.5 percent that the country's leaders have targeted.
  • A new report says African-Americans and Latinos are losing economic ground when compared with whites in the areas of employment and income as the United States pulls itself out of the Great Recession. The latest State of Black America report from the National Urban League says that the underemployment rate for African-American workers is 20.5 percent, compared with 18.4 percent for Hispanic workers and 11.8 percent for white workers. The report also says African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to be unemployed.

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