Wall Street rallied as weekly jobless claims fell to 268,000, much lower than the forecast 285,000.
It was a counter to the much weaker than expected private jobs report yesterday and encouraged investors ahead of tomorrow’s non-farm payrolls, which come out when virtually all markets are shut.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 95 points to 17,793, while the Nasdaq and S&P500 were also higher.
Pharma giant UnitedHealth led the way, rising more than 1.3% to US$117 as analysts raised their price target to US$130-140 from US$120.
Merck and its partner, NewLink Genetics’, new Ebola vaccine is both safe and causes antibody response. Shares rose in Merck 0.7% to US$57.
Fellow pharma company Pfizer has halted vaccine sales in China after failing to retain a licence for Prevenar. Shares nudged higher despite the news to U$34.
Fast food giant McDonalds was the biggest faller as it announced it is to raise its hourly pay for 90,000 workers. Shares slipped 0.4% to $95.
Computer parts provider Micron’s shares did well on better than expected margins in the second quarter.
Coffee giant Starbucks was climbed more than 1% to US$94 after a target price hike to US$112 from US$99 by broker Bernstein.
Back home, the FTSE 100 was up 25 points to 6,834 led by high street brand Marks & Spencer (LON:MKS). The retailer posted better than expected results for the fourth quarter leading to share price rise of 5%.