* Jobless claims fall more than expected in latest week
* Intercept Pharma drug meets goal in trial, shares triple
* Fed's Yellen hopes for at least 3 pct growth - Time
* Indexes up: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Jan 9 U.S. stocks rose at the open on
Thursday in the wake of upbeat labor market data and as Macy's
lifted the bar further for retailers after a stellar holiday
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment
benefits last week fell slightly more than expected to a
seasonally adjusted 330,000, pointing to an economy that was
continuing to gain steam.
"The market is comfortable with that number. It doesn't
suggest the Fed will stop or accelerate its taper plan.
Hanging here in the 320,000 to 340,000 zone is good," said Peter
Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments
in Lisle, Illinois.
The U.S. central bank said last month it would begin
trimming its stimulative monthly bond purchases, and minutes
from the Fed's most recent meeting showed its top officials were
keen to steer a delicate path and many of them stressed that
future decisions were not set in stone.
Janet Yellen, set to take over as head of the Federal
Reserve next month, was "hopeful" that U.S. economic growth will
accelerate in 2014 to 3 percent or more and persistently low
inflation will move up toward the central bank's target of about
2 percent, according to a Time magazine interview released
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 34.58 points or
0.21 percent, to 16,497.32, the S&P 500 gained 4.16
points or 0.23 percent, to 1,841.65 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 13.23 points or 0.32 percent, to 4,178.842.
Macy's shares jumped 7 percent to $55.50 a day after
the department store operator reported strong holiday sales and
gave a preliminary forecast for 2014 that suggests it will
continue to outpace its rivals.
"The theme of a better economy seems to resonate with
investors and they continue to look for companies that will do
well in a better economy," said Rick Meckler, president of
LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Still, many U.S. retailers had to ramp up promotions as
shoppers continued to watch their spending during the holiday
season, hitting profits at several chains.
Family Dollar reported a weaker quarterly profit as
it discounted more than it had planned to win holiday shoppers,
sending its shares down 5.3 percent to $62.83.
Bed Bath & Beyond fell 12.3 percent to $69.86 a day
after lowering its fourth quarter and full-year earnings
T-Mobile US on Wednesday reported a fourth-quarter
boost in customer growth and offered to pay customers to switch
from rival services, escalating already intense competition in
the U.S. wireless market. Shares rose 0.5 percent to $33.44.
Healthcare sector stocks continued to shine. U.S. drugs
wholesaler McKesson added 3.5 percent to $175.80 after
it raised its offer for German peer Celesio,
persuading a hedge fund that had been blocking the multi-billion
dollar deal to agree to sell some of its shares.
Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc soared more than 250
percent to $254.89 after it said an analysis by an independent
safety committee showed its liver disease drug met the main goal
of a mid-stage trial.