European stocks close higher on rising commodity prices

New applications for US unemployment aid, a proxy for job cuts, jumped to their highest level in two months in late March, in the latest labour market data ahead of the important official jobs report on Friday.

Initial jobless claims rose to 221,000 in the week to March 30 from a revised 212,000 in the previous week, the labour department said. Economists expected a smaller increase to 214,000, though these levels remain low by historical standards in a reflection of the resilient US labour market.

Continuing claims, by people who have previously made an initial claim, dropped to a six-week low of 1.79mn in the week to March 23, from 1.81mn previously. Economists had expected the figure to be roughly unchanged.


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