MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Rise Modestly; Berkshire Tops $200K

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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By Anora Mahmudova and Carla Mozee, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks ended Thursday modestly higher, as softer-than-expected economic data reinforced speculation that the Federal Reserve won't rush to raise interest rates.

Investors shrugged off a larger-than-expected jump in jobless claims and mixed earnings from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kohl's Corp.

The S&P 500 (SPX) closed up 8.46 points, or 0.4%, at 1,955.18, with health-care stocks leading the gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 61.78 points, or 0.4%, to 16,713.58. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) rose 18.88 points, or 0.4%, to 4,453.00.

Dow industrials component Wal-Mart (WMT)lowered its full-year earnings forecast, while second-quarter operating profit met analyst expectations and sales topped those views.

Department-store operator Kohl's (KSS) shares rallied after the company posted slightly improved second-quarter earnings from a year ago, despite a decline in sales. Same-stores sales turned positive in July.

A report from the Labor Department showed initial jobless claims rose more than expected, but remained close to prerecession levels, boding well for the labor market. Analysts said that like most recent economic data, this report was soft enough for the Fed not to rush with rate hikes, but not too soft to raise worries about the economy.

"Investors gave a jobless claims a pass, as the trend seems to be intact," said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors.

Meanwhile, operators of brick-and-mortar stores are slowly adjusting to a shift in consumer behavior, and, "We see a lot of stocks that are now attractive because of that shift," he said. He said the firm owns shares in American Eagle Outfitters Inc.( AEO )

After Thursday's closing bell, embattled retailer J.C. Penney ( JCP ) is projected to report a narrower second-quarter loss of 91 cents a share.

Nordstrom (JWN) also will release results after the close, and analysts expect the upscale department store chain to post earnings of 94 cents for its second quarter.

Also read: Why retail worries will only grow, and love for Tesla

Stocks to watch

Tesla Motors Inc.(TSLA) extended the streak of record closes to four straight sessions. Tesla stock has been climbing since reporting strong second-quarter results.

The Class A shares of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway(BRKA) have hurdled the $200,000 price level for the first time, nearly eight years after first piercing the $100,000 mark. S&P Dow Jones Indices' Howard Silverblatt noted that the shares crossed above $100 in May 1977.

Cisco Systems ( CSCO ) shares fell after the network-equipment maker said late Wednesday that it plans to cut up to 6,000 jobs. (Read more about the day's notable movers here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wal-mart-cisco-are-stocks- to-watch-thursday-2014-08-13.)

In other financial markets, the 10-year yield on U.S. Treasurys fell to the lowest level in 14 months, at 2.4% after a robust auction of long-dated bonds and a round of lackluster economic data.

Among commodities, September oil futures (CLU4) fell more than 2% after a surprise uptick in stockpiles. December gold futures (GCZ4) settled higher for the third session. European stocks were higher and Asian stocks finished mixed, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng losing 0.4%.

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This article appears in: US Markets , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AEO , BRK.A , BRKB , CSCO , JCP

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