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NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are rising after news that fewer people joined the unemployment line last week and word that a technology bellwether's profit beat expectations.
The Dow Jones industrial average is up 256 points, or 2.4 percent, at 10,972 at 11:45 a.m. in New York. The S&P 500 is up 30, or 2.8 percent, at 1,151. The Nasdaq is up 73, or 3.1 percent, at 2,454.
For the first time in four months, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time fell below 400,000 last week. Analysts say it may be a sign that the job market is slowly improving after its three-month slump.
Cisco Systems' profit report also helped to lift technology stocks, which are leading the market higher along with financial stocks.
Investors had been growing more worried about the economy since the government said last month that it grew at its slowest pace in the first half of 2011 since the recession ended in 2009. Worries about the weak economy and the first-ever downgrade of the U.S. credit rating contributed to big swings in stocks this week.
The volatility of the market has brought computerized trading systems under scrutiny. Those systems can account for as much as 70 percent of the trading volume. Even on an average day, computerized trading equals about half of the volume.
Computers are better than humans at detecting slight changes in stock performance and then taking action. In some cases these systems trade to make a fraction of a penny profit per share of a given stock. However that can add up quickly with large numbers of shares.
The computers often capitalize on momentum, which can snowball quickly, especially when jittery investors are upset over real economic data.
Some brokers say the Securities and Exchange Commission needs to reign in computerized trading. Others warn that more safeguards likely will mean more high-tech complications in the future.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)