Don't worry; be happy

03/03/2011 6:46 pm EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

Sing along: Good news, nothing but good news, nothing but good news all day long.

At least from the U.S. economy today.

A quick list of why U.S. investors were in such a good mood today. Such a good mood that the Standard & Poor’s 500 climbed 1.7%.

Initial claims for unemployment dropped unexpectedly. Claims fell by 20,000 to 268,000 for the week that ended on February 26. Economists were looking for an increase in new claims to 395,000, according to a survey by Bloomberg. (We get the jobs report tomorrow and economists are expecting to see that the economy added 200,000 jobs for February.)

The U.S. service sector matched the strong growth reported last week for the manufacturing sector. The Institute for Supply Management’s index for non-manufacturing businesses rose to 59.7 in February from 59.4 in January. That’s the highest level since August 2005. Economists had been looking for a drop to 59.3.

U.S. retailers posted a larger than expected gain of 4.3% in same store sales for February. That was well above the 3.8% gain projected by analysts and it marked the 18th straight monthly gain in same store sales.

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