U.S. stocks are fairly high up in positive territory in early afternoon trades Thursday, recovering well after ending the previous session on a weak note.

Data showing another drop in U.S. jobless claims is aiding sentiment. The drop was smaller than expected, but the number of jobless claims was the lowest since mid-March 2020.

The major averages are all up in positive territory with notable gains. The Dow, which rose to 34,233.40 around noon, pared some gains subsequently, and was up 178.94 points or 0.53% at 34,074.98 about an hour past noon.

The S&P 500 was up 37.82 points or 0.92 percent at 4,153.50, while the Nasdaq gained 196.74 or 1.47 percent at 13,496.48.

Quarterly earnings announcements from top name companies continue to provid direction to the market.

Data released by the Labor Department Thursday morning showed unemployment claims in the U.S. dropped in the week ending May 15th.

The data showed that initial unemployment claims in the U.S. fell to 444,000 last week (the lowest since the week ended March 14, when it had dropped to 256,000), down from a revised 478,000 claims in the previous week. Economists had expected unemployment claims to drop to around 450,000 in the week ending May 15th.

The Labor Department’s data also showed that the number of continuing claims unexpectedly rose by 111,000 last week to 3.75 million, hitting a seven-week high.

The four-week moving average of US jobless claims, which removes week-to-week volatility, dropped to a fourteen-month low of 504,750 in the week, down from a revised 535,250 in the previous week.

The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index fell to 31.5 in May from 50.2 in April which was the strongest reading in nearly 50 years. Figures also came below forecasts of 43. The index of business conditions fell sharply to 52.7 in April, from 66.6

Technology stocks are gaining in strength. Apple, Amgen, Microsoft, Intel and IBM are up 1 to 2 percent.

Among other gainers, Procter & Gamble, Walt Disney, Home Depot, McDonalds and Coca-Cola are notably higher.

Shares of Kohl’s Corporation (KSS) are down nearly 10 percent despite the company reporting a strong surge in sales in the first quarter. The company reported a first-quarter net income of $14 million or $0.09 per share, compared to a net loss of $541 million or $3.52 per share in the prior-year quarter.

The company also raised its earnings guidance for the full-year 2021 to $3.80 to $4.20 per share, up from a previous guidance of $2.45 to $2.95 per share. share last year.

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