Updated from 4:12 p.m. EDTStocks in New York rose again Thursday, with tech leading the way, and the move sent the Nasdaq into positive territory for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 174.75 points, or 2.3%, to 7924.56, and the S&P 500 tacked on 18.98 points, or 2.3%, to 832.86. The Nasdaq added 58.05 points, or 3.8%, to 1587.
Also, the Labor Department reported that weekly unemployment claims increased slightly more than expected to 652,000 from 646,000 the week prior. "The bottom line is jobs. We need people to start finding jobs," says Detrick. "Nonetheless, we are getting some good news," such as the recent durable goods orders and housing data. Companies, however, continue to trim staff in an effort to better weather the recession. Among them, IBM ( IBM) plans to lay off about 5,000 U.S. employees as it moves jobs to lower-cost regions, according to reports. Also, Bank of America ( BAC) is set to lay off several hundred workers as it merges two units that serve wealthy individuals, according to a staff memo cited in a news report. Financials were struggling Thursday. On the Dow, Bank of America and Citigroup ( C) dropped. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testified before Congress, and he called for a new single regulator to oversee the entire financial system. The regulator would try to prevent a repeat of the behavior that led to the credit crisis. Meanwhile, the federal government, which has sought to keep multiple companies from bankruptcy, is prepared to extend more aid to GM ( GM) and Chrysler if necessary to keep the automakers afloat, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. GM rose 14.1% to $3.41 on the news. The automaker said that roughly 7,500 of its U.S. union workers will take buyout offers and leave the company by April 1, while Chrysler said it is extending the deadline on its buyout program. Elsewhere, oil rose $1.59 to settle at $54.34 a barrel, while gold added $2 to $940 an ounce. Longer-dated Treasuries were rising. The 10-year note was adding 12/32 to yield 2.7%, and the 30-year was up 1-8/32, yielding 3.7%. The dollar was gaining against the yen, but was weaker vs. the euro and pound.