Thursday Trading Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories That Moved Markets

After a turbulent trading session, U.S. equities managed to close Thursday on a higher note. Weaker than expected jobs data played against news that Japan would begin an aggressive monetary stimulus program. At the close:

DJIA: +0.38% to 14,606.10 S&P 500: +0.40% to 1,559.97 NASDAQ: +0.20% to 3,224.98
Gold: +0.00% to $1,553.50 per ounce WTI Crude:  -1.12% to $93.39 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: -0.048 points to 1.763 percent

Here are three stories that helped shape the markets today:

1) March served up more disappointing jobs data on Thursday. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that initial claims for unemployment insurance increased by 28,000 in the last week of the month. Claims totaled a seasonally-adjusted 385,000, a 7.8 percent increase from last week’s unrevised figure of 357,000 and about 10 percent higher than expectations. This is the highest level of claims since late November. Tomorrow morning, the government will release the employment situation report for March, which economists are expecting to show an increase of about 193,000 payrolls…  (Read more.)

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Separately, a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed that employers announced 49,255 layoffs in March, an 11 percent decrease month to month, but a 30 percent increase year over year… (Read more.)

2) The eurozone seems to be stuck in recession. The Markit Eurozone Composite PMI report for March, released on Thursday morning, showed that the decline in business activity accelerated for the second month in a row and is declining at its fastest rate since November. Output has fallen for 18 of the past 19 months.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, commented: “The unresolved election in Italy was commonly cited as a key factor clouding the economic outlook in March, and the botched bail-out of Cyprus could well filter through to a further worsening of business sentiment across the region in April.” (Read more.)

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3) Natural gas stockpiles continued to decline. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday that natural gas in underground storage declined by 94 billion cubic feet in the week ended March 29 to a level of 1,687 billion cubic feet. Stocks were 779 billion cubic feet less than the reserves reported at this time last year and 37 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 1,724 billion cubic feet, suggesting to experts that natural gas production may take a hit as milder weather is expect to blunt demand in upcoming weeks… (Read more.)

Here’s how the 3 major stock indices closed out Thursday trading:

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