After moving sharply higher over the course of morning trading, stocks are seeing continued strength in early afternoon on Thursday. The upward move comes as traders express some optimism about the outlook for the economy despite some weak employment news.

Before the start of trading, the Labor Department said that initial jobless claims in the week ended March 28th unexpectedly rose to 669,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 657,000. With the increase, jobless claims rose to a new twenty-six year high.

While the data added to concerns about Friday's monthly employment report, Peter Boockvar of Miller Tabak noted, Participants are looking past this employment data and placing their chips on the 'worst is over' belief and the still worsening labor market is a lagging indicator.

Additionally, a report from the Commerce Department showing that factory orders rose 1.8 percent in February added to recent signs of a stabilization in the economy, although the report also showed a notable downward revision to the data for January.

The rally on Wall Street also comes as traders keep an eye on the Group of 20 Summit in London, where world leaders have pledged to do whatever necessary to end the economic crisis.

The major averages have continued to move higher in recent trading, once again rising to new highs for the session. The Dow is currently up 307.20 at 8,068.80, the Nasdaq is up 70.53 at 1,622.13 and the S&P 500 is up 33.67 at 844.75.

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