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April 26, 2012 at 2:00 PM
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Markets move higher Thursday

NEW YORK, April 26 (UPI) -- Stocks moved higher in New York Thursday morning after the U.S. Labor Department said first-time unemployment benefit claims dropped marginally in the week.

It was the second consecutive week of marginal gains with 2,000 fewer claims filed in the previous week and 1,000 fewer in the week ending Saturday.

The four-week rolling average for first-time claims came to 381,750, an increase of 6,250 from the previous week.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 85.48 points or 0.659 percent to 13,176.20. The tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index gained 13.02 points or 0.43 percent to 3,042.65. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained 9.95 points or 0.5 percent to 1,397.64.

The 10-year treasury note rose 9/32 to yield 1.956 percent.

The euro rose to $1.3238 from Wednesday's $1.3217. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 80.86 yen from Wednesday's 81.34 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 0.01 percent, 0.82, to 9,561.83.

In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 0.52 percent, 29.83, to 5,748.72.

Walmart: Never lobbied against bribe law

WASHINGTON, April 25 (UPI) -- A Walmart official denied that the company participated in lobbying effort regarding the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Walmart is part of the Institute for Legal Reform, a group sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that took a stand regarding the act.

However, Walmart Vice President of Corporate Communications David Tovar issued a statement saying: "Walmart has never lobbied on FCPA. Simply because Walmart is a member of an organization does not mean we agree with every position they take."

A source familiar with the institute told The Washington Post Walmart was "not particularly active" in its operations.

The FCPA, passed in 1977 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, bars U.S. companies from using bribery overseas. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating allegations Walmart paid more than $24 million in Mexico to get construction permits for its stores.

Thomas D. Hyde, who resigned as Walmart's corporate secretary and chief ethics officer in 2010, sat on the institute's board from 2003-10. The New York Times, which broke the story of the alleged bribery, said Hyde was allegedly involved in shutting down an internal investigation into the bribery allegations.

Class of 2012 faces improved job market

CHICAGO, April 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. job market shows a critically promising sign for college graduates, as more than half of employers indicated they plan to hire, a recent study found.

In an annual survey conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by CareerBuilder, researchers found 54 percent of employers indicated they had plans to hire a freshly minted college graduate this year.

The figure is a solid jump from the 46 percent from a poll taken a year earlier and 44 percent in the poll taken in 2010, CareerBuilder said.

The survey of 2,000 hiring managers conducted Feb. 9 through March 2 found 20 percent of employers indicated their starting wage was less than $30,000, while 30 percent indicated salaries started at $30,000 to $40,000 and 28 percent said salaries would exceed $50,000 for recent college graduates.

Twenty-one percent indicated starting salaries fell between $40,000 and $50,000.

Thirty-nine percent of hiring managers indicated they were seeking a candidate with a business degree, while 24 percent indicated someone with a computing and information services degree was on their hiring list.

Twenty-three percent indicated an engineering degree would help. From there, the demand for various degrees drops.

Thirteen percent of hiring managers indicated they are seeking a job candidate with a math or statistics degree, matched by the health profession (13 percent) and followed by communications (12 percent) and liberal arts (9 percent).

Those numbers don't directly match up with responses to the question, "What jobs are employers targeting college grads to fill?" CareerBuilder said.

Respondents indicated the jobs available involve information technology (25 percent), customer service (23 percent), sales (21 percent), finance or accounting (18 percent), marketing (17 percent) and business development (17 percent).

Average Canadian salary $886 per week

OTTAWA, April 26 (UPI) -- Canadian employees on payroll earned an average of $886.45 per week in February, a 1.8 percent year-over-year gain, Statistics Canada reported Thursday.

Among the factors that affect the overall national average weekly pay are the number of people working, occupations and the number of hours worked, the report said.

"February was the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year declines in hours worked," StatsCan said. "Non-farm payroll employees worked 32.8 hours per week on average in February, down from 33 hours 12 months earlier and 32.9 hours in January."

Two of the largest industrial sectors, construction and wholesale trade, outpaced the average 1.8 percent annual increase.

Construction weekly payroll increased 5.4 percent to $1,120.03, while wholesale trade earnings increased 3.3 percent to $1,096.98 in the 12 months to February, the agency said.

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