NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks jumped in early trading, after a government report showed that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits dropped unexpectedly last week.
Before the market opened Thursday, the Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to 368,000. That's the lowest level since May 2008. Economists had expected claims to rise.
Applications below 425,000 tend to signal modest job growth. But they would need to dip consistently to 375,000 or below to indicate a significant decline in the unemployment rate. Applications for benefits peaked during the recession at 651,000.