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The U.S. equity markets edged out modest gains on Thursday, with the Dow extending its record by a fraction.
At the close: DJIA: +0.23%, S&P 500: +0.18%, NASDAQ: +0.30%.
On the commodities front, WTI crude oil (NYSEARCA:USO) for April delivery advanced about 1.3 percent, or $1.13, to settle at $91.56 per barrel on relatively heavy volume. Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for April delivery, the most active contract, edged 20 cents higher to settle at $1,575.10 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for May closed flat at $28.81.
Both precious metals held steady, despite the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits reaching six-week lows. According to the Labor Department, initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 in the week ended March 2.
The Federal Reserve has made a pledge to keep interest rates at record lows until the job market improves, but the process is slow moving. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England decided to keep their interest rates at current levels — 0.5 and 0.75 percent, respectively. President Mario Draghi said the ECB will keep central bank policy “accommodative” for as long as needed in his monthly news conference.
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