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Stocks up on job market news; Bond yields rise

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Big movers

Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily on Thursday:

Twitter Inc., up $3.35 to $73.31. The stock has surged 76 percent this month and has nearly tripled since the microblogging social network went public in November.

T-Mobile US Inc., up 74 cents to $32.93. There are reports that Japan's SoftBank wants to buy the wireless carrier. SoftBank bought most of Sprint for $21.6 billion this summer.

Barclays PLC, up 11 cents to $17.82. An industry watchdog fined a unit of the British bank $3.75 million for improper record keeping.

Hhgregg Inc., down 38 cents to $14.57. The home appliance and electronics retailer said its CFO is leaving and named a temporary replacement. Inc., up $5.19 to $404.39. The online retailer said it had a strong holiday shopping season and has tens of millions of Amazon Prime members.

Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc., down $3.19 to $11.81. The Israeli drug maker is selling 1.6 million shares for $10 each and will use the money to develop its drugs.

Eagle Rock Energy Partners L.P., down 14 cents to $6.21. Raymond James said the natural gas firm has positioned itself for a rebound.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp., down 61 cents to $12.83. Raymond James sees a rough patch for the provider of natural gas fuels for transportation, citing its “high-cost structure.”

— Associated Press

By The Associated Press
Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 4:45 p.m.

NEW YORK — The stock market continued its climb on Thursday as traders went back to work after the Christmas holiday, adding to what has been a historic year for the market.

Traders were encouraged by an unexpectedly large drop in claims for unemployment benefits last week, the latest sign that the job market is improving. Trading volume was very low, however, as most portfolio managers have closed out their positions for the year.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for many kinds of loans, briefly crossed above the psychologically important 3 percent mark. It hasn't been that high since September.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 122.33 points, or 0.8 percent, to 16,479.88. It was the 50th record high close for the Dow this year. The index is up 25.8 percent so far in 2013, on pace to have its best year since 1996.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8.70 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,842.02 and the Nasdaq composite was up 11.76 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,167.18. With Thursday's gains, the S&P 500 is up 29.2 percent for the year, or 31.3 percent when dividends are included. The S&P is on track for its best year since 1997.

Bond prices fell, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to 2.99 percent from 2.98 percent on Tuesday. The note briefly traded above 3 percent.

Yields have been climbing since late November as economic reports have suggested that the U.S. recovery is gaining momentum. The increase accelerated last week when the Federal Reserve announced it was cutting back on its bond-buying program. The yield last touched 3 percent in September. It hasn't been consistently above 3 percent since July 2011.

“There's a silver lining to see bond yields rise like this because it's a sign that the economy is getting stronger,” said John De Clue, chief investment officer of U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

Yields on Treasury securities like the 10-year note are used to calculate interest rates on student loans, mortgage rates, credit cards and many other kinds of debt. As the 10-year yield has risen in the last six months, so have mortgage rates. In early May, the average mortgage rate was about 3.35 percent. This week it was 4.48 percent, according to the government mortgage agency Freddie Mac.

“We are starting to take the medication away from the bond market, but it's important to note that yields are still at historically low levels,” said Dan Veru, chief investment officer of Palisade Capital Management, which manages $4.5 billion in assets.

Investors cheered the latest signal that the economy is improving. The Labor Department said the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits fell 42,000 last week to 338,000. The drop was far bigger than economists were expecting and an indication that fewer people were losing their jobs.

It was another slow day for Wall Street, with most investors on vacation for Christmas and only three trading days left in 2013. Approximately 1.96 billion shares traded hands on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, well below the daily average of 3.3 billion shares.

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