Stocks are paring their early losses, supported by new
employment data pointing to continued improvement for U.S. workers
and some renewed buying following two days of steep declines this
The Labor Department today said new claims for unemployment
benefits dropped by 6,000 to 357,000 last week. The more stable
four-week average declined to 361,750 from 366,000, falling again
to its best levels in four years. It also bolstered confidence for
tomorrow's nonfarm payrolls report, which is projected to show an
increase of 200,000, according to economists polled by
Retailers also are helping keep stocks within close range of
even today, with most stores reporting strong sales for March.
Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (
) has traded 9% higher and hit new year highs today after reporting
better-than-expected Q4 profit. Comparable sales rose 6.8%. Shares
of T.J. Maxx parent TJX Cos. (
) also hit new year highs as did rival Ross Stores Inc. (
) after their respective sales last month topped expectations and
the companies raised their Q1 outlooks. Discounter Target Corp. (
) and department-store operator Macy's Inc. (
) also reported better-than-expected March results.
Buckle Inc. (BKE) shares fell over 6% after the teen retailer's
March sales rose 6.4%, missing the 8.8% average estimate. Costco
Wholesale Corp. (COST) also missed forecast, saying sales rose 6%,
below estimates for a 6.7% increase. Results for warehouse retailer
included a 6% increase in the U.S. and a 7% gain overseas.
A rebound in commodity prices today also is helping to keep the
major indices within close range of even today. At last look, gold
for June delivery is more than 1% higher at $1,631.50 an ounce, up
$17.40. May crude oil is up $1.41 to $102.88 a barrel. Natural gas
tumbled again after a new inventory report showed a
higher-than-expected build in supplies last week.
Among the energy ETFs, the United States Oil fund is up 0.62% to
$39.08 while the United States Natural Gas fund is down 1.43% to
$15.83. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners
ETF is down 1.00% at $46.24 and the SPDR Gold Shares fund is up
0.56% to $158.09. The iShares Silver Trust is up 1.20% to
Here's where the U.S. markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index down 15.80 (-0.19%) to 8,090.99.
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.23 (+0.00%) to 13,074.98.
S&P 500 up 0.72 (+0.05%) to 1,399.68.
NASDAQ Composite up 13.82 (+0.45%) to 3,081.91.
Nikkei 225 down 0.53%.
Hang Seng Index down 0.95%.
China Shanghai Composite Index up 1.74%,
FTSE 100 up 0.35%.
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Index up 0.05% to 12,669.5117
NYSE Financial Index down 0.28% to 4,699.68.
NYSE Healthcare Index down 0.36% to 7,389.00.
(+) ALTH, (+26.9%) Receives $206-million buyout offer from
(+) WOLF (+14.4%) KSL Capital Partners offers $6.25 a share,
topping Apollo Global Management bid.
(-) SPPI, (-7.7%) Disappointing Phase II for prospective bladder
(-) PLCM, (-17.4%) Cuts Q1 revenue forecast due to Asia Pacific
and North American shortfalls.
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