* Jobless claims disappoint, following private sector report
* Best Buy rallies on plan to sell discounted iPads
* Dow up 0.3 pct; S&P up 0.3 pct; Nasdaq up 0.04 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, April 4 U.S. stocks edged higher on
Thursday on supportive plans by major central banks, though
another disappointing U.S. economic report added to worries
about the economy's strength.
An unexpected jump in U.S. weekly jobless claims to a
four-month high raised questions about the labor market's
recovery, a day ahead of the U.S. government's widely watched
monthly jobs report. On Wednesday, a report showed U.S.
companies hired at the slowest pace in five months in March.
Offsetting that, the Bank of Japan shocked markets with
ambitious plans to fight deflation. Its move along with
supportive remarks by European and Federal Reserve officials
suggested supportive policies will continue to buoy stocks.
The Fed's stimulus efforts along with signs of improvement
in the U.S. economy have helped stocks rally since the start of
the year. While the S&P 500 broke above its closing record last
week, it has yet to surpass its intraday record high of
1,576.09, and investors have mostly pulled back from the market
"We see a lot of people expecting a pullback, and the fact
that it hasn't happened means there's a lot of room for people
to cover their losses," said Joe Bell, senior market analyst for
Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Retailer Best Buy Co Inc was the S&P's top
percentage gainer, rising 12.9 percent to $24.45 after saying it
would offer a 30 percent discount on its current stock of Apple
iPad 3 tablets in the United States.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 44.05 points,
or 0.30 percent, at 14,594.40. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 4.66 points, or 0.30 percent, at 1,558.35. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 1.32 points, or 0.04
percent, at 3,219.92.
Data showed jobless claims jumped to 385,000 in the latest
week, confounding expectations that claims would drop by 7,000
Among the latest comments from Fed officials, Dennis
Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, on
Thursday suggested the Fed's program would continue for at least
a few more months.
Charles Evans, head of the Chicago Fed and an influential
dove at the central bank, said on Thursday rates could stay at
rock bottom until joblessness falls to 5.5 percent from the
current 7.7 percent.
Japanese shares gained 2.2 percent while the iShares
MSCI Japan Index ETF jumped 3.9 percent to $10.88. U.S.
shares of Toyota Motor rose 4.5 percent to $105.40.
WisdomTree Japan ETF jumped 7.2 percent to $43.77.
Shares of Facebook jumped 3.2 percent to $27.10 after
it unveiled a new family of phone applications that will let
users display mobile versions of their newsfeed and messages on
the home screen of a wide range of devices.