U.S. stock markets rose Thursday after the Labor Department said first-time unemployment claims fell in the week ending Saturday.
Initial claims declined by 7,000 to 340,000 in the week, the department said. The four-week running average fell to 348,750 -- its lowest level since March 2008.
In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average, working off a second consecutive record close Wednesday, added 18.51 points, or 0.13 percent, to 14,314.75.
The Standard and Poor's 500 index added 2.02 points, or 0.13 percent, to 1,543.48. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.43 points, or 0.01 percent, to 3,222.80.
The 10-year U.S. treasury note fell 14/32 to yield 1.99 percent.
Against the dollar the euro rose to $1.3102 from Wednesday's $1.2966. Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 94.92 yen from 93.07 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.3 percent on a gain of 35.81 points, to 11,968.08.
In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.18 percent, 11.52, to 6,439.16.
UPDATE: The Dow ended at a record high for a third consecutive day on Thursday, with Bank of America (BAC.N) up 2.9 percent, closing at $12.26, and JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) up 1.2 percent to close at $50.63, Reuters reported.
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