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There are signs of progress on the jobs front and the clock is ticking on a deadline to avert a massive strike at eastern ports. Here's the Thursday Bloomberg After The Bell Report from the New York Stock Exchange.
Jobless numbers out Thursday marked a milestone. First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, bringing the average number of claims over the past month to an almost five-year low. House lawmakers will convene Sunday night as Congress tries to finally come to a budget agreement with President Obama over the so-called fiscal cliff.
On a phone call with Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner said the majority Democratic Senate needs to pass a GOP plan to avert the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.
Stocks were slightly lower on fiscal cliff concerns, but erased some earlier losses after the House announced its weekend session.
President Obama is not just under pressure to broker a budget deal, but he also faces calls to prevent a strike that would gridlock ports along the east coast. The deadline for dockworkers and employers to reach an agreement is just two days away. Florida Gov. Rick Scott says Obama has not responded to his requests for intervention.