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The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to a 14-year low, a positive signal that could counter doubts over whether the economy is shifting into a higher gear.  Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000, its lowest level since 2000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. This suggests the labor market is gaining steam. (Reuters)

Industrial production in the U.S. rose in September by the most since November 2012, driven by a surge in utilities and a rebound in manufacturing.

The 1% advance in output at factories, mines and utilities exceeded the highest forecast. Utility production was the strongest since May 2012, while factories made strides even as motor vehicle output fell for a second month. The fact that we can get a 1% increase in production when you have a decline in the auto sector is striking. (Bloomberg)

Goldman Sachs turned in significantly better third-quarter results than expected, thanks to a long-awaited improvement in trading conditions for Wall Street banks. Goldman’s profits rose to $2.24 billion, up 47% from the third quarter of 2013. The bank’s total sales rose 25%, to $8.39 billion. (Reuters)

Philip Morris International's third-quarter profits dropped 8% as cigarette sales fell in the overseas markets that it serves and it was hurt by foreign exchange rates for the U.S. dollar. The seller of Marlboro outside the United States earned $2.15 billion, down from $2.34 billion, a year ago. Cigarette shipments fell less than 1% to 222.3 billion cigarettes.  Shipments fell 2% in Latin America and Canada and 1.3% in Asia. Shipments were up less than 1% in the company's region that encompasses Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as in the European Union. (Associated Press)

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