Midday Update: Stocks Holding Narrow Gains Following Mostly Bullish Data

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Stocks are clinging to a skin-tight range on Thursday, buoyed by bullish housing data and better-than-expected earnings from Best Buy ( BBY ) and Williams Sonoma ( WSM ). After a tame pull-back that followed a larger-than-expected rise in initial jobless claims last week, equities were back near their session highs this afternoon. But just as it has been through all of this week, volume has been extremely thin, with investors hesitant to take aggressive positions prior to the long holiday weekend in the U.S.

Other than a 28,000 gain in first-time unemployment claims to 326,000 during the week ended May 17, topping estimates looking for a 13,000 gain, Thursday's economic data was mostly market-friendly.

Also, the Chicago Fed reported national economic activity slowed during April, with their index sliding to a negative 32 reading last month from a positive 34 score reported in March.

But the Markit Purchasing Managers Index showed a respectable gain in manufacturing activity, with its May index increasing to a 56.2 reading from 55.4 last month, beating estimates for a 55.9 reading.

That followed by a 1.3% improvement in existing home sales to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 4.65, narrowly trailing estimates looking for a 4.69 million annualized pace.

Europe closed mostly higher in tandem with positive action in the U.S. as well as on upbeat Chinese manufacturing data. Although the FTSE-100 dipped into negative territory, the other major indices on the continent held onto modest gains.

Leading indicators were up 0.4% in April, meeting estimates, but the Kansas City Fed manufacturing index jumped to 10.0 in May from 7.0 the month prior.

Crude oil was down $0.07 to $104.00 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.09 to $4.39 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $7.70 to $1,295.80 an ounce, while silver was up $0.18 to $19.52 an ounce. Copper was up $0.02 to $3.14 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.26% to $38.08 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 2.18% to $24.24. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 0.08% to 23.46 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.31% to $124.78. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.57% to $18.75.

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

NYSE Composite Index up 33.74 (+0.32%) to 10,654.18

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 21.09 (+0.13%) to 16,554.15

S&P 500 up 6.59 (+0.35%) to 1,894.62

Nasdaq Composite Index up 25.38 (+0.61%) to 4,156.91

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 2.11%

Hang Seng Index up 0.51%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.18%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.01%

CAC 40 up 0.21%

DAX up +0.24%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.03%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.35%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.33%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) LIQD (+21.66%) Insider buys another 25,000 shares.

(+) KIRK (+13.98%) Reported better-than-expected Q1 results and provided guidance for Q2 and fiscal 2014.

(+) NTLS (+18.83%) Extends strategic network deal with Sprint ( S ) through 2022.

(+) ROYL (+38.38%) Identifies large drillable target on Alaska 3D seismic data.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) WSTL (-15.08%) Reported mixed financial results for Q4.

(-) LO (-4.92%) CNBC reports proposed merger with Reynolds American (ROI) still has a long way to go.

(-) BONT (-5.08%) Posts wider-than-expected Q1 loss.



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: BBY , WSM , S

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