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NEW YORK: US stock indices began Thursday's session decisively higher after the government reported a big drop in new claims for jobless benefits.

New applications for US unemployment benefits dipped below 300,000 last week for the first time since Covid-19 sent them skyrocketing into the millions early last year, the Labor Department said.

The data cheered investors fretting over the impact of the Delta variant.

That outweighed separate government report showing annual US wholesale prices jumping 8.6 percent last month, the biggest increase in over a decade as inflation remains high across the country.

Also aiding sentiment was Wednesday's release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's policy meeting last month indicating the central bank is ready to start pulling back on stimulus, perhaps as soon as November.

Wall Street flat on concerns over inflation impact on profits

After recent sessions saw rocky trading amid inflation and Delta fears, "stock market participants for their part are seeing a rebound opportunity," Patrick J O'Hare of Briefing.com wrote.

About 45 minutes into trading, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained 1.2 percent to 34,777.49.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 1.3 percent to 4,419.34, and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was up 1.4 percent to 14,779.64.

Positive earnings reports also fueled market gains, with Wells Fargo, Bank of American and Citigroup all reporting profits.

Among individual companies, Boeing was down 1.4 percent after announcing it had uncovered another defect on its 787 Dreamliner jet that will require it to rework undelivered planes.

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