Nov. 10, 2011 at 2:58 PM ET
By msnbc.com staff and news services
Hopeful signs in both U.S. employment and Europe’s debt crisis helped stocks turn positive in afternoon trading. Headed into the last hour of the session stocks were off session highs but still up.
Approaching 3 p.m. Eastern, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.99 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.84 percent and the Nasdaq was 0.15 percent higher.
The Labor Department said Thursday that new claims for unemployment benefits dropped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 390,000 versus a revised 400,000 the prior week. Analysts had been expecting claims of about 400,000, Reuters said.
Italy sold $6.8 billion worth of debt at rates that were more favorable than analysts expected. Italy's benchmark borrowing rate dropped below 7 percent after spiking above that level the day before. Investors were also relieved by talk that the economist Mario Monti is likely to replace Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who was seen as an obstacle to meaningful economic reforms. Italy's president pledged that Berlusconi will step down soon.
Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital, called the drop in unemployment claims and the news from Europe encouraging. "It's got the markets on the cheerful side," he told the Associated Press.