Better news on US job market sends stocks higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks moved higher in morning trading today as Wall Street went back to work after the Christmas holiday.

Traders were encouraged by an unexpectedly large drop in claims for unemployment benefits last week, the latest sign that the U.S. job market is improving.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for many kinds of loans, edged closer to 3 percent. It hasn’t been that high since September.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 56 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,414 as of 11 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose five points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,838 and the Nasdaq composite was up eight points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,163.

The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits fell 42,000 last week to 338,000. The drop was far bigger than economists were expecting and an indication that fewer people were losing their jobs.

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