Wall Street Opens Higher on Positive Manufacturing Data

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Wall Street opened higher on Thursday on the release of positive U.S. manufacturing data, but gains were slightly offset by a decline in oil prices.

Durable goods orders jumped 4.9% last month, beating economists’ projections of a 2.5% rise. Crude prices fell further as oversupply offset growing demand for gasoline in the United States. Investors are also concerned about the impact of slumping oil prices affecting the financial sector, as banks prepare for a string of defaults from energy companies.

In morning trading, the S&P 500 gained 7.88 points (0.41%) at 1,937.68. The Dow Jones was at 16,555.05, gaining 70.06 points (0.42%). The Nasdaq Composite jumped 13.41 points (0.3%) to 4,556.01.

Of the S&P’s 10 major sectors, eight were higher. Financials lead the gains, with banks pushing the sector higher.

Jobless data released on Thursday showed unemployment rose more than expected, reaching 272,000 last week. Despite the jump in claims, numbers still remain below levels that are consistent with a tightening labor market.

Salesforce (CRM) was one of the biggest movers, surging 11% to $69.38 after posting higher-than-expected revenue and boosting its forecast for the year.

HP Inc. (HPQ) lost 6.2%, falling to $10.15 after forecasting profits that were lower than analysts’ estimates. The company also announced that it would be accelerating its restructuring program.

A separate report from Bloomberg showed customer sentiment held steady last week at a near three-month high. The Consumer Comfort Index was at 44.2, virtually unchanged from the previous week’s reading. Over the last six weeks, the gauge has remained within narrow 0.6 range.

Improved job security and lower gas prices are boosting sentiment. But the gains in consumer confidence are being offset by concerns over weak global demand, volatility in financial markets and a slow increase in core inflation.

Bloomberg’s confidence gauge is not in line with the Conference Board’s report, which showed a decline in confidence to a seven-month low amid concerns about employment and the grim economic outlook.

Consumer Confidence data shows that optimism among full-time workers fell last week after soaring to its highest level since April. Part-time workers were the most pessimistic.

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