U.S. stocks rise after strong data; Dow Jones up 0.27%


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Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday, after the release of strong U.S. economic reports overshadowed persistant concerns over upcoming U.S. debt ceiling negotiations.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.27%, the S&P 500 index added 0.24%, while the Nasdaq Composite index edged up 0.25%.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits last week fell by 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000, a five-year low, compared to expectations for a decline of 7,000 to 365,000.

A separate report showed that U.S. housing starts jumped by 12.1% in December to a seasonally adjusted 0.954 million, a four-year high, compared to expectations for a 3.3% increase to 0.890 million.

Meanwhile, uncertainty over the U.S. debt ceiling deadlock continued to weigh after President Barack Obama urged Republicans earlier in the week to approve an increase in the borrowing limit without seeking policy concessions in return.

Financial stocks were broadly lower after disappointing earnings reports. Bank of America plunged 3.65% after topping expectations but reporting a profit that was lower than a year ago.

Citigroup wasn't far behind, with shares plummeting 3.63% after the U.S. lender posted a wide earnings miss, with the new CEO citing a "challenging" environment due to increased regulatory pressures and legal costs.

Meanwhile, shares in Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, who both posted results that beat expectations on Wednesday, retreated 0.75% and 0.68% respectively.

Also in earnings news, United Health posted earnings that matched expectations and topped revenue estimates, sending shares up 0.63%.

Elsewhere, Boeing tumbled 1.28%, as airlines rushed to rearrange flights after Europe, Japan and India joined the United States in grounding Boeing's 787 Dreamliner passenger jets due to the investigation of battery-related problems.

AT&T was also in focus, declining 0.69% shortly after the U.S. market open, amid reports the group is considering buying a telecom company in Europe to offset growth constraints in its home market.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The EURO STOXX 50 climbed 0.70%, France's CAC 40 jumped 0.99%, Germany's DAX advanced 0.78%, while Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.35%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index eased 0.07%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index added 0.09%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to produce data on manufacturing activity in Philadelphia.

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