USA/PRregister.com/ The stock market traded in a tight range Thursday after the government said businesses increased inventories by a larger-than-expected amount in November.
The gain in inventories is a welcome sign for the economy and suggests that businesses are feeling more confident that sales will pick up. It was the second straight month that stockpiles increased after 13 months of declines.
There was also positive news from SAP, a major business software maker based in Germany. SAP said its fourth-quarter revenue fell less than forecast, providing some reassurance that companies are becoming more willing to invest in technology.
In less encouraging news, the Labor Department reported that workers seeking unemployment benefits for the first time rose by 11,000 last week, more than the 3,000 economists had expected. The jump was due partly to typical seasonal layoffs in the retail, manufacturing and construction industries.
"The economy has already shown signs of improvement and in investors' minds the question is how much of that is already priced into the market," said Brian Lazorishak, portfolio manager at Chase Investment Council.
Demand for the safety of government debt increased.
Stocks rose Wednesday, led in part by financial stocks after the appearance by bank CEOs on Capitol Hill did not dissuade investors from jumping into the sector. The executives testified before Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which is investigating the near collapse of the financial system and credit markets in the fall of 2008.
The dollar was mixed again other major currencies. Gold fell modestly.
Crude oil fell 27 cents to $79.77 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.