Thursday Afternoon Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories that Moved Markets

The markets rallied today, pressing against five-year highs on the back of mixed financial earnings and optimistic economic reports. Oil climbed 1.12 percent to $95.30 per barrel, while gold climbed 0.20 percent to $1,686.60 per ounce.

At the close: DJIA: +0.63%, S&P 500: +0.63%, NASDAQ: +0.59%.

Here are three stories that helped shape markets today:unemployment-office

1) The number of initial jobless claims for the week ended January 12 fell to a five-year low, according to the Department of Labor. The number of claims fell nearly 10 percent week over week, while the four-week moving average fell 1.8 percent.

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The markets have been watching employment data with additional interest ever since the Federal Reserve announced that it would link its monetary policy decisions to the U-3 unemployment rate, which currently sits at 7.8 percent. As long as inflation doesn’t pass 2.5 percent, the Fed intends to keep its foot on the monetary gas pedal until the rate drops to 6.5 percent, which might not be until 2014… (Read more.)

foreclosure-sign72) Lenders repossessed fewer homes in 2012 than in 2011, pursuing alternatives to foreclosures following government mortgage settlements with large U.S. banks and harsher state laws.

RealtyTrac’s year-end Foreclosure Market Report for 2012 showed that foreclosure filings, including default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions, were made on a total of 1.8 million properties last year, down 3 percent from 2011 and more than 36 percent from a 2010 peak of 2.9 million properties… (Read more.)

3) Positive housing news continues with higher-than-expected housing starts in December. According to the Commerce Department, housing starts for the month climbed 12.1 percent, and homebuilder stocks rallied across the board.

December’s adjusted annual rate of 954,000 units is the highest pace of housing starts since mid-2008… (Read more.)

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