Wall St gains on upbeat jobs data

AAP, with a staff reporter

United States stocks closed higher after jobless claims declined for the third straight week, leading the Dow to stretch its winning streak to nine sessions.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had risen 83.86 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 14,539.14 points.

The last time the index accomplished such a run was more than 16 years ago in November 1996.

The mark is also the seventh consecutive record close in a row for the Dow.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 8.71 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 1,563.23 points, just below its all time closing record.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index gained 13.81 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 3,258.93 points.

Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare said the decline in new claims for unemployment benefits, a sign of the pace of layoffs, was an encouraging sign for the economy.

"Once again, there is a good basis for the stock market to maintain an upward bias and for trading volume to increase," Mr O'Hare said.

Claims totalled 332,000 in the week ending March 9, a drop of 10,000 from the prior week, according to the Department of Labor.

"The stock market tends to lead the economy, whether the economy is expanding or contracting, by about six months," Standard & Poor's chief investment strategist Sam Stovall said.

"The implication is that investors believe the US economy and also the global economy is likely to see an improvement in its overall trajectory."