Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are mixed, while stocks are up worldwide. U.S. jobless-claims data came in better than anticipated as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 target April highs. European markets moved upward on a rebound in bank stocks and Asian markets moved higher following positive results on Wall Street.

  • The number of U.S. workers who filed new applications for unemployment benefits fell by 17,000 last week to 421,000, the Labor Department reported today, resuming a recent downward trend. After peaking at 504,000 in August, weekly claims have gradually declined. The four-week average of new claims, meanwhile, dropped 4,000 to 427,500, the lowest level since August 2008.
  • European stocks moved higher on Thursday, driven north by banks, while investors shrugged off a downgrade of Ireland. Among the main indexes, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3% holding on to its gains after the Bank of England left the country’s key interest rate on hold at 0.5%, and maintained its asset-purchase program at $316 billion, as expected. iShares MSCI Europe Financials Index ETF (NASDAQ: EUFN ) is up 0.6% in early trading.
  • Fitch Ratings downgraded Ireland’s debt to BBB from A. The rating agency said the country’s continued investment-grade rating is underpinned by the bailout package agreed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund, reports MarketWatch. iShares MSCI Ireland (NYSEArca: EIRL) is up slightly, despite the report.
  • Seoul stocks jumped to their highest finish in more than three years after the Bank of Korea left interest rates unchanged. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.7% to a closing level not seen since November 2007, with technology shares gaining from expectations for strong holiday-season sales, reports MarketWatach. Index IQ South Korea Small Cap (NYSEArca: SKOR) is up 2% so far this morning.

Gregory A. Clay contributed to this article.

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