Stocks Ramp-Up on Encouraging Jobs Report

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock averages gained Thursday as new claims for jobless benefits fell for the first time in four weeks and investors continued to bet on equities emboldened by expectations that central banks worldwide will maintain policies to bolster their economies.

The S&P 500 was up 0.36% to 1,593.37 after the index shattered its intra-day record of 1,576.09 set in October 2007. The Federal Reserve this week indicated it will maintain its asset buying program for the foreseeable future and Japan reasserted its aggressive monetary policies.

Acadia Pharmaceuticals ( ACAD) soared 64.4% to $13.10 as the company takes the express lane to U.S approval for its Parkinson's disease psychosis drug.

Ford ( F) advanced 3.3% to $13.55. Its shares posted a fourth-consecutive session gain after the automaker said Thursday that Ford Sollers, a joint venture partner, has produced its first full-production Ford Explorer in Russia, marking the first time the Explorer has been fully produced outside of the U.S.

Netflix ( NFLX) jumped 4.2% to $173.01 after getting some love this morning from Goldman Sachs as the investment bank raised its earnings estimates and price target on the movie provider citing improved subscriber growth and margin expansion.

The Department of Labor reported Thursday that the number of U.S. residents filing for unemployment benefits fell by 42,000 to 346,000 in the week ended Apr. 6, more than reversing the previous week's jump, from an upwardly-revised 388,000. Economists were expecting initial jobless claims to add up to 365,000.

Simultaneously the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the price index for U.S. imports fell 0.5% in March, following increases of 0.6% in February and 0.5% in January led by a downturn in fuel prices, easing inflation concerns and stoking confidence that Federal Reserve policymakers still have more room to maneuver on stimulus.

"We still remain concerned about the longer-run inflationary effects of zero rates and continued quantitative easing, but the March inflation data cycle looks to be very benign judging from this first report," John Ryding and Conrad DeQuadros, economists at RDQ Economics in New York said in a note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.42% to 14,865.14 after touching a record intraday high of 14,887.51 late morning. The Nasdaq was up 0.09% to 3,300.16.

JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Wells Fargo ( WFC) report first-quarter earnings on Friday.

Technology was the worst performing sector Thursday as Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) stumbled 6.5% to $20.88 a share, Microsoft ( MSFT) shed 4.4% to $28.93 a share and Intel ( INTC) fell 2% to $21.83 after market research firm IDC said Wednesday that global PC shipments fell 13.9% in the first quarter, the biggest plunge since the firm began monitoring the industry in 1994.

Microsoft has been downgraded by analysts at no less than three brokerage firms. Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini on Thursday cut the software giant to sell from neutral and lowered the price target to $27 from $30 reflect worsening PC trends and a lack of traction in tablets and smartphones.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 4/32, diluting the yield to 1.794%. The dollar was down 0.25% to $82.30 according to the U.S. dollar index.

May crude oil futures lost $1.13 to settle at $93.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.