U.S. stock-indexes advance as unemployment claims decline

U.S. stock-index futures climbed, signaling the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (CME:SPH14) will extend its record, as data showed fewer Americans than projected filed applications for unemployment benefits last week.

Tesla Inc. gained 2.9% on a report that the electric car maker will focus on opening more showrooms in China next year. T-Mobile US Inc. advanced 1.9% amid a report that SoftBank Corp. is likely to raise the funding needed for its planned purchase of the wireless network provider.

March futures on the S&P 500 gained 0.2% to 1,832.90 at 9:08 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts advanced 51 points, or 0.3%, to 16,354. U.S. markets were closed yesterday for the Christmas holiday.

“The stock market is energized by the stronger macro trends that we’re seeing,” Jim Russell, who helps oversee $112 billion as a senior equity strategist for U.S. Bank Wealth Management, said by phone. “The fundamentals are filling in for a market that has been primarily Fed-driven. We think that is a healthy and sustainable development that has some momentum into 2014.”

U.S. benchmark indexes extended all-time highs in a shortened session on Dec. 24 as data on durable goods and new- home sales beat forecasts. The S&P 500 has gained 29% in 2013, poised for its biggest annual jump since 1997.

Jobless claims declined by 42,000 to 338,000 in the week ended Dec. 21, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 42 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a drop to 345,000. Continuing claims rose.

The year-end holidays make it difficult to adjust for fluctuations in applications for jobless benefits, a Labor Department official said as the figures were released.

Fed Stimulus

The Federal Reserve, which has made employment creation a determinant factor of its monetary stimulus, on Dec. 18 said it will reduce the pace of bond buying amid faster-than-estimated economic growth. Three rounds of stimulus have sent the S&P 500 up 171% from a 12-year low in 2009.

“We are still seeing a bit of window dressing,” Stephane Ekolo, a strategist at Market Securities in London, said by phone. “The U.S. is doing better, the recovery is there. We’ve been playing the tapering news for some time, but the market has come to terms with the fact that it is a minor withdrawal of stimulus, and that in any case it means the economy is doing better. It is a good sign.”

Tesla gained 2.9% to $155.78. The electric car maker will focus on opening more showrooms in China next year, and hundreds of vehicles have been ordered since Tesla opened a Beijing location in November, according to a China Daily report.

T-Mobile US advanced 1.9% to $32.80. SoftBank Corp. is likely to raise the funding needed for its planned purchase of the wireless network provider, Nikkei reported without citing anyone. Softbank Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son is exploring a deal for Sprint Corp. to buy the majority of T- Mobile for about $20 billion next year, according to people familiar with the situation.

www.bloomberg.com

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