Updated from 9:58 a.m. EST
Stocks in New York were trading modestly higher heading into midday in their final session of the year Wednesday, as weekly jobless claims data came in significantly below expectations.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was up 73 points at 8741, and the
was gaining 8 points at 898. The
was up 18 points at 1568.
The number of people seeking
fell to 492,000 from 586,000 a week prior and well below economists' expectation for 575,000. However, "seasonal factor volatility" played a part according to the Department of Labor.
"Until there's more clarity, I would not yet put jobless claims on a list of figures suggesting the worst has thus far been seen. It is a list that remains nearly empty," writes Tony Crescenzi, chief bond market strategist for Miller Tabak, on his
The number of people continuing to draw claims, however, climbed to 4.5 million, the highest since 1982.
Meanwhile, disgraced investor
is scheduled to submit a list of his personal assets to the
Securities and Exchange Commission
on Wednesday, including property that could be tapped to make restitution to victims of his $50 billion Ponzi scheme.
Stocks in New York ended higher Tuesday after investors shrugged off the release of the worst consumer confidence figures on record and prepared to close the book on a historic year.
In a sign of the times, Lake Superior State University included in its 2009 list of banished words "bailout" and the "Wall Street/Main Street" dyad.
Fitting in one last
in 2008, the Treasury Department said Tuesday it will provide $5 billion to
GMAC Financial Services
, GM's auto and mortgage financing arm, in return for preferred shares that pay an 8% dividend and warrants to purchase additional shares.
In corporate news,
said it will pick up a 25% stake in Aberdeen Asset Management in exchange for its traditional fund management business.
said that it will rejigger its executive lineup as part of its global restructuring. The company said Michael Cannon, president of global operations, and Mark Jarvis, chief marketing officer, will leave the company.
Also, the world's third-largest independent chemical company, LyondellBasell Industries, has informed lenders that a Chapter 11 filing might be in its future, according to a report in
The Wall Street Journal
In commodities, oil was recently down 9 cents at $38.94 a barrel, while gold gave up $9.20 to $860.80 an ounce.
Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were recently falling. The 10-year note was giving up 24/32 to yield 2.1%, and the 30-year was down 1 10/32, yielding 2.6%. The dollar was stronger against the euro and the yen, and weaker against the pound.
Overseas, the FTSE in London was edging higher, and the Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended with gains.
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