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At the open: Dow, TSX gain despite rise in jobless claims Add to ...

North American stocks rose modestly at the start of trading on Thursday, despite a rise in U.S. jobless claims.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 40 points or 0.3 per cent, to 12,846. The broader S&P 500 rose 5 points or 0.4 per cent, to 1374. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index rose 26 points or 0.2 per cent, to 12,053.

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This marks the second straight day that stocks have risen, as they rebound from a five-day selloff previously. However, the economic backdrop to the gains seemed hardly upbeat: U.S. initial jobless claims for the period ended last week rose by 13,000, to 380,000, which is considerably higher than economists expectations. This is the first report on claims since the Labor Department reported disappointing monthly payrolls numbers last week.

Separately, the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. trade deficit fell 12.4 per cent in February – due mostly to a drop in imports – marking its biggest drop in three years. Economists at Capital Economics believe that the narrowing trade deficit bodes well for U.S. economic growth in the first quarter.

Among the leaders in the U.S., Hewlett-Packard Co. rose 4.9 per cent, Alcoa Inc. rose 1.7 per cent, Caterpillar Inc. rose 1.6 per cent and rose 1.4 per cent.

Among Canadian stocks, Corus Entertainment Inc. fell 1.6 per cent after it reported a 16 per cent gain in its quarterly profit, beating estimates slightly.

Suncor Energy Inc. rose 0.6 per cent, Royal Bank of Canada rose 0.1 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. rose 1.7 per cent.

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