التقرير الأول : Reuters Jobless Claims Fall, Lowest Since Feb. Thursday August 21, 8:31 am ET WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing first-time claims for state jobless benefits fell last week, a government report showed on Thursday, with the power blackout having a "minimal effect" on the data. Initial claims fell to 386,000 in the week ended Aug. 16, down 17,000 from an upwardly revised 403,000 in the prior week and below analysts' expectations for a total of 395,000 claims. The running four-week average that is viewed as a better gauge of the labor market because it smoothes volatility was below the key 400,000 mark for the third week in a row. The moving average dropped 1,250 claims for the four-week period ending Saturday from 395,500 in the prior week, pointing to a strengthening job market. "The decline (in claims) was not strongly influenced by the blackout last week," a Labor Department spokesman said. "Only one state inside the blackout region had an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 fewer claims because of filing difficulties." The massive power outage -- the biggest failure in North American history -- struck the U.S. Northeast and Midwest as well as part of eastern Canada. التقرير الثاني كان قبل نزول التقرير الأول Stocks Set to Rise on Optimism Over Data Thursday August 21, 8:02 am ET By Vivian Chu NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks are set to open higher on Thursday as investors anticipate solid economic data that will show that the U.S. economy is experiencing a long-sought recovery. Key among the data is the Philadelphia Federal Reserve survey, a measure of factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region, due at 12 p.m. The Philadelphia Fed's index of factory business conditions is expected to edge up to 9.9 in August, up from forecasts of 8.3 in July. The government will also release weekly jobless claims, which are expected to total roughly 395,000 in the week ended Aug. 16, down slightly from 398,000 in the prior week. Jobless claims below the 400,000 level point to job creation, which is vital to economic recovery. The Conference Board, a private research group, will release its monthly index of leading indicators. July's index of leading indicators is seen edging up 0.4 percent, up from June's 0.1 percent advance. "We still have a sense of momentum. The trend continues to be higher, and there's a great deal of confidence in the recovery and I think the numbers will buttress that," said Larry Wachtel, senior vice president at Prudential Securities. "There's a sense of anticipation of the economic numbers today. The jobless numbers will be distorted by the blackout, but the Philly Fed index should be up about 10 percent, and the leading indicators should be up for the fourth straight month," Wachtel said. Standard & Poor's 500 stock index futures for September were up 5.30 points, while Nasdaq futures for the same month rose 11.50 points. Futures for the Dow industrials rose 50 points. Retail stocks will be in the earnings spotlight, with many leading chain stores reporting quarterly results. Among those reporting are Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE:BKS - News), the No. 1 U.S. bookseller, and Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS - News), the largest U.S. specialty apparel retailer. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (NYSE:KKD - News) could also be on the move after the company reported higher quarterly earnings, driven by more store openings. In Iraq, television reports said that U.S. forces have captured Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam Hussein known as "Chemical Ali." However, traders said that his capture would not have a big impact on market sentiment. In overseas action, European stock indexes rose on gains in auto stocks as the euro eased further and a broker upgrade on the chip sector lifted technology shares. The FTSE Eurotop 300 (London:^FTEU3 - News) of pan-European blue chips rose 1.02 percent to 908.67 points, while the narrower Euro STOXX 50 (Zurich:^STOXX50E - News) gained 1.07 percent to 2,590 -- both at 8-1/2 month highs. Overnight in Tokyo, Japanese stocks ended at a 2003 high for the fourth straight day on Thursday, led by gains in Japan's top two steel firms, still inspired by a recent data suggesting economic recovery in the United States and Japan. The benchmark Nikkei average (^N225 - News) closed up 0.69 percent or 70.63 points at 10,362.69, the highest finish since July 15 last year. The TOPIX index (^TOPX - News) rose 0.85 percent, closing higher for the fourth straight day. U.S. stocks ended lower on Wednesday as disappointing results from Dow component Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ - News) weighed on blue chips and the market stalled after two straight days of gains. The Dow Jones industrial average (CBOT:^DJI - News) slipped 31.39 points, or 0.33 percent, to 9,397.51, and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index (CBOE:^SPX - News) eased 2.05 points, or 0.20 percent, to 1,000.30. The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index (NasdaqSC:^IXIC - News) fell just 0.57 of a point, or 0.03 percent, to 1,760.54.