- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2009

UPDATED:

Wall Street closed Thursday with gains, following reports of more unemployment and slumping home sales.

The Labor Department reported the number of U.S. workers filing first-time unemployment claims increased last week by 27,000 compared to the previous week and that 93,000 more workers filed ongoing claims in the week ending April 11, setting a record for the 12th straight week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 7,957.06, up 70.49 points. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stocks Index was at 841.29, up 8.37 points, and the tech-heavy NASDAQ closed at 1,652.21, up 6.09 points.

The National Association of Realtors reported that home sales decreased by 3 percent in March compared to the previous month.

Existing-home sales — which includes single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops — declined from 4.71 million units in February to 4.57 million units last month, the report stated. The March number also was 7.1 percent lower than the roughly 4.92 million units sold in the same month last year.

Tobias M. Levkovich, a managing director and the chief U.S. equity strategist for Citi Investment Research, didn’t think the home-sales report had a “phenomenal” impact on the market and that investors were instead trying to interpret a “cross-current of data,” including the increasing price of copper.

U.S. stock prices increased after iPod-maker Apple Inc. reported a 15 percent increase in earnings during the first quarter of 2009, and PNC Financial Services reported a profit of $1.03 a share, both exceeded analysts’ expectations.

Apple stock closed 3.20 percent up, to $125.40 a share. PNC shares closed 2.87 percent up, to $40.93 a share.

U.S. markets are trying to extend a six-week rally that follows 12-year lows in March.

The rally has largely followed the lead of first-quarter reports from the financial industry.

Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. all have had better-than-expected first-quarter reports during the rally.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 1.37 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.31 percent, Germany’s DAX index dropped 1.22 percent, and France’s CAC-40 dropped 0.55 percent.

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