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Wall Street Rises Toward Records as it Prepares for Friday’s Jobs Report

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New York (AP) — U.S. stocks are rising Thursday and climbing back toward record heights, as Wall Street makes its final moves ahead of a jobs report that could shake the market on Friday. news online

The S&P 500 was up 0.7% in early trading and sitting just below its all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 250 points, or 0.6%, as of 9:40 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.9% higher.

Conagra Brands climbed 4.1% after the company behind such food brands as Birds Eye and Duncan Hines reported a milder drop in revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected. It also delivered a better profit than forecast.

Levi Strauss jumped 16.3% after its latest quarterly results likewise topped expectations. It also slightly raised its forecast for profit over its full fiscal year as it shifts to selling jeans directly to consumers.

They helped offset a 12.8% drop for Lamb Weston, a supplier of frozen potato products that said a transition to a new planning system hurt its ability to fill customer orders. It said the impact from the transition has likely passed, but it lowered its sales and profit forecast for the year.

The stock market’s gains trimmed the S&P 500’s loss for the week to 0.1%. It had sunk from its record earlier this week after surprisingly strong data on the U.S. economy raised worries that the Federal Reserve may not deliver as many cuts to interest rates this year as it’s hinted.

One of the big reason the U.S. stock market stormed more than 20% higher from November through March was the expectation that the Fed would cut its main interest rate several times. But Fed officials have said they need to see additional proof inflation is heading down toward its 2% target before acting, a message Chair Jerome Powell reiterated on Wednesday.

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A report on Thursday may have offered some encouraging signals. It showed slightly more U.S. workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, though the number remains low compared with historical standards.

Wall Street is looking for the job market to cool enough to remove upward pressure on inflation, but not so much that it throws too many people out of work and causes a recession.

That’s raised the anticipation for a report coming Friday, where the U.S. government will show how much hiring happened across the country last month. Economists expect it to show a cooldown in March from February.

Treasury yields were holding relatively steady in the bond market and gave up earlier gains following the release of the jobless claims report.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury eased to 4.32% from 4.35% late Wednesday. The two-year yield, which moves more on expectations for the Fed, was holding steady at 4.67%, where it was late Wednesday.

Stronger-than-expected reports on the economy earlier this week, including a surprise return to growth for manufacturing, had sent Treasury yields spurting higher.

In stock markets abroad, indexes were mixed in Europe after rising in much of Asia. .

Analysts say Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s facilities may get quicker-than-expected relief — easing concerns about production halts — after a powerful earthquake struck Wednesday. Trading was closed in Taiwan, as well as in China, for a national holiday.

AP Business Writers Yuri Kageyama and Matt Ott contributed.

The Associated Press. All rights are reserved.

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