March 07 - Summary of business headlines: Dow sets record #3 in a row; Jobless claims fall; Trade gap widens; Gap, Costco beat sales forecasts; Icahn's Dell plan; ECB holds rates steady. Bobbi Rebell reports.
It's three in a row for the Dow- setting yet another record on Wall Street. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hitting multi-year highs. Stocks have been higher for 5 sessions in a row. The Dow is up about 9 and a half percent so far this year. The S&P 500 up more than 8 percent. Jobless claims pointed to a pick-up in the labor market's recovery- and the economy's resilience in the face of higher taxes. Weekly jobless claims fell unexpectedly - by 7,000 to 340,000- the second weekly decline in a row. The 4-week moving average at its lowest level since 2008. It comes just one day ahead of the closely watched payrolls report. Joe Foudy, Professor at NYU Stern School of Business: SOUNDBITE: JOSEPH FOUDY, PROFESSOR, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think the estimate for Friday is about 160,000 jobs. You know, 100,000, 150,000 people enter the workforce every month so just treading water means that we have to hit those kind of numbers. For sustained improvement, we really need a quarter of a million jobs a month and we need that for a few years. And we are just waiting to see when the economy is strong enough to start producing those kind of numbers. " Separately, the Commerce Department said the trade deficit widened in January in part because imports rebounded after disruptions to port activity in the previous months. The improving job and real estate market helped get consumers shopping again - and a number of companies reported better than expected sales last month. Gap sales beat forecasts led by increases at its Banana Republic and Old Navy chains. Also coming in better than forecasts- Costco. The warehouse club chain said sales of fresh food and consumer electronics were strong. Facebook is giving its newsfeed a facelift. The social network unveiled a more mobile device oriented newsfeed designed to keep users more active and better appeal to advertisers. Dell's plans to go private hitting a snag. Shareholder Carl Icahn says he wants the number 3 PC maker to pay $15.7 billion dollars in a special dividend instead. He a proposing a leveraged recapitalization and said Dell's go-private deal undervalues the company. Turning to Europe - all arrows up on the major country averages. The European Central Bank held its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.75 percent as expected- and offered no hints about monetary policy easing in the months ahead.