Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday, as the release of upbeat U.S. employment data fuelled optimism over the strength of the job market's recovery.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow 30 rose 0.38% above 17,000 points for the first time, the S&P 500 gained 0.32%, while the NASDAQ Compositeadded 0.22%.
The U.S. Department of Labor said non-farm payrolls rose by 288,000 last month, easily surpassing expectations for an increase of 212,000. The previous month's figure was revised up to a gain of 224,000 from a previously reported increase of 217,000.
The unemployment rate ticked down to a four-and-a-half year low of 6.1% from 6.3% in May. Analysts had expected the jobless rate to hold steady at 6.3% last month.
The Labor Department also said that initial jobless claims rose by 2,000 to 315,000 for the week ending June 28, compared to expectations for an increase to 314,000. The prior week's claims were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.
A separate report showed that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $44.39 billion in May, from $47.04 billion in April, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated deficit of $47.20 billion. Analysts had expected the trade deficit to narrow to $45 billion in May.
In the insurance sector, American International Group (NYSE:AIG) jumped 1.12% and Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU) surged 1.90% after telling regulators they could divest units and halt policy sales to avoid taking a bailout in a future crisis.
The two companies submitted the wind-down plans for the first time after being designated systemically risky by federal regulators last year.
Among tech stocks, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) held steady, up 0.02%, after the chipmaker said it bought Israel-based Wilocity in an effort to speed up introduction of new Wi-Fi products.
The company indicated that Wilocity's fast gigabit wireless-data capabilities will be included in sample products being shipped to customers.
In similar news, Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) declined 0.44% after Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff said the company is considering acquisitions of German software providers and system integrators in a move to reach $1 billion in local sales.
Rackspace Hosting (NYSE:RAX) added to losses, down 1.34% after surging over 6% on Wednesday amid reports the cloud service provider may take itself private and was in talks with a private equity firm to fund the deal.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 advaned 0.81%, France's CAC 40 climbed 0.79%, Germany's DAX jumped 0.95%, while Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.60%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged down 0.08%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.14%.
Later in the day, the Institute of Supply Management was to publish a report service sector activity.
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