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Stocks rose to five-year highs on Friday, with the Dow closing above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007, after jobs and manufacturing data showed the economy’s recovery remains on track.
Based on the latest available data, the Dow Jones industrial average DJIA was up 149.21 points, or 1.08 percent, at 14,009.79. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index SPX was up 15.05 points, or 1.00 percent, at 1,513.16. The Nasdaq Composite Index IXIC was up 36.97 points, or 1.18 percent, at 3,179.10.
READ ON: Dow ends above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007
Britain’s European partners told David Cameron on Wednesday his demand for radical reform of the EU and an “in-out” referendum on UK membership showed a selfish and ignorant attitude.
France went so far as to call Britain’s bluff and say it was free to leave. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he had told a recent meeting with British businessmen: “If Britain wants to leave Europe we will roll out the red carpet for you.”
READ ON: Selfish, ignorant, dangerous: Europe’s verdict on Cameron speech
Wal-Mart Stores Inc will buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made goods over the next decade in areas like sporting goods and high-end appliances in what the world’s largest retailer called a bid to help boost the U.S. economy.
Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the United States, also said on Tuesday it plans to hire 100,000 newly discharged veterans over the next five years, at a time when the U.S. unemployment rate is at 7.8 percent.
READ ON: Wal-Mart plans $50 billion “buy American” push
Walt Disney Co, which reported record earnings in November, started an internal cost cutting review several weeks ago that may include layoffs at its studio and other units, three people with knowledge of the effort told Reuters.
Disney, whose empire spans TV, film, merchandise and theme parks, is exploring cutbacks in jobs no longer needed because of improvements in technology, one of the people said.
It is also looking at redundant operations that could be eliminated after a string of major acquisitions over the past few years, said the person, who did not want to be identified because Disney has not disclosed the internal review.
Executives warned in November that the rising cost of sports rights and moribund home video sales will dampen growth.
“We are constantly looking at eliminating redundancies and creating greater efficiencies, especially with the rapid rise in new technology,” said Disney spokeswoman Zenia Mucha.
The pace of hiring by U.S. employers eased slightly in December, pointing to a lackluster pace of economic growth that was unable to make further inroads in the country’s still high unemployment rate.
Payrolls outside the farming sector grew 155,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. That was in line with analysts’ expectations and slightly below the revised gain of 161,000 reported for November.
The report reinforces expectations of 2 percent economic growth this year, unlikely to quickly bring down the unemployment rate or make the U.S. Federal Reserve rethink its easy-money policies anytime soon despite growing unease by some policymakers over a bond-buying program.
“The U.S. economy is just muddling through,” said Tom di Galoma, managing director at Navigate Advisors in Stamford, Connecticut.
The jobless rate held steady at 7.8 percent in December, down nearly a percentage point from a year earlier but still well above the average rate over the last 60 years of about 6 percent.
In his first week as U.S. president, Barack Obama told Iran’s leaders he would extend a hand if they would “unclench their fist” and persuade the West they weren’t trying to build a nuclear bomb.
So far, they have not. In response, the United States and the European Union this year took a step they had long resisted, imposing trade sanctions to choke off Iran’s lifeblood: oil revenue.
It was financial warfare, and it carried grave risks. Until recently, Iran was the world’s fourth largest exporter of oil, providing just under three percent of internationally traded supply. The campaign to take that oil off the market risked driving up world oil prices, disrupting the international payments system and stifling a fragile global economic recovery
In interviews, senior U.S. and European officials described the intense diplomatic maneuvering they undertook to enact the sanctions without causing an oil shock.
Obama warned allies that oil sanctions were the only way to avert a new war between Israel and Iran. U.S. envoys pressed Iraqi, Libyan and, above all, Saudi officials to pump up their own crude supplies. Washington and its allies massaged skittish oil markets with carefully calibrated messages. U.S. diplomats journeyed to southern Iraq to inspect plans for new oil terminals that could help blunt the loss of Iranian shipments.
SPECIAL REPORT: Inside the West’s economic war with Iran
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment aid fell last week to nearly its lowest level in 4 1/2 years, a possible sign that employers have picked up the pace of hiring.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week’s figure was revised to show 1,000 more applications than previously reported.
After spiking in the wake of a mammoth storm that ravaged the East Coast in late October, the weekly levels of new claims have now dropped to their lowest levels since the early days of the 2007-09 recession. The four-week moving average fell 11,250 last week to 356,750, the lowest since March 2008.
The claims data for last week has no direct relation to the Labor Department’s monthly employment report, but suggests the surge in layoffs since the recession has at least run its course.