Midday Update: Stocks Continue to Challenge New Records on Upbeat Jobs Data, Consumer Confidence

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An improving U.S. economy continues to fuel stock market gains, with a larger-than-expected drop in first-time unemployment claims again nudging stock indices to record highs. Shares of consumer discretionary companies are again outperforming thanks to a modest rise in the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort index and resilience in retail stocks as a result of healthy Christmas spending. But utilities and financial stocks are struggling with the continued rise in Treasury yields luring yield-hungry investors away from interest-rate sensitive equities and into the government bond market.

Following upbeat data on durable goods orders and the housing market data earlier this week, the three major indices are all holding respectable gains this morning thanks to a 42,000 decline in initial claims, beating estimates for a 39,000 drop. Volume remains thin, however, and stocks have settled into a razor-thin range this afternoon.

Most European markets, including the UK's FTSE and German DAX were closed today for the Boxing Day holiday.


Crude oil was up $0.23 to $99.45 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.02 to $4.42 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $9.10 to $1,212.40 an ounce, while silver was up $0.45 to $19.93 an ounce. Copper was up $0.01 to $3.39 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.42% to $35.64 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 0.06% to $21.77. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was p 0.86% to 21.11 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.73% to $116.97. The iShares Silver Trust was up 2.24% to $19.18.

Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index up 31.70 (+0.31%) to 10316.10

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 75.99 (+0.46%) to 16433.54

S&P 500 up 5.10 (+0.28%) to 1838.42

Nasdaq Composite Index up 8.30 (+0.20%) to 4163.71

Nasdaq Composite Index +0.20%

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 1.03%

Hang Seng Index up 1.13%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 1.58%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.23%

CAC 40 up 0.07%

DAX up 0.94%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.43%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.24%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.27%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) IFON, (+32.5%) Stock continues to climb after the company signed a non-exclusive distribution agreement with Ingram Micro Mobility ( IM )

(+) AEZS, (+11.3%) Shares rise for a fifth day, moving past their 50-day moving average at $1.29.

(+) SPCB, (+6.9%) The company has completed the acquisition of the Smart ID division from On Track Innovations.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS:

(-) ORMP, (-19.2%) The company enters into definitive agreements with investors to purchase an aggregate of 1.58 million shares of its common stock at $10.00 each in a registered direct offering.

(-) BBRY, (-3.6%) Co-founder and former CEO Mike Lazaridis walks away from a possible takeover bid, reducing his stake in the struggling smartphone maker.

(-) HHG,(-2.7%) CFO and Secretary Jeremy J. Aguilar is resigning, effective Jan. 31, to pursue a similar role at another company.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 MTNewswires.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.


This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: IM

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