Stocks Rally at Mid-Day on Lower Jobless Claims; Cisco's Upbeat Earnings, Guidance

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Stocks are higher, with the major indexes up 2% to 3% at mid-day, following a decline in the weekly unemployment claims below 400,000. Still, an unexpected rise in the trade gap raises question about U.S. economic activity. Also, investors remain concerned over the ongoing fiscal crisis in the European Union.

In a mixed bag of early data, weekly jobless claims fell, taking the four-week moving average to 405,000, the lowest since mid-April. The trade deficit unexpectedly gained in June and suggests a downward revision to second-quarter GDP growth from the initial estimate of a 1.3% annual rate.

In company news:

Cisco's ( CSCO ) upbeat earnings are helping to stabilize the tech sector. CSCO is up 16.6% after beating with adjusted earnings and revenue, plus guiding above the Street view in its release late Wednesday. Cisco earned at least a few analyst upgrades this morning. Advanced Auto Parts ( AAP ) also is up after better-than-expected Q2 earnings.

Shares of Gilead Sciences ( GILD ) are seeing firm support, after the company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Complera, a single-tablet regimen for the treatment of HIV-1 infection. Still, an Associated Press report this morning reports that expectations are low for the new once-per-day HIV treatment due to an increased rate of virologic failure seen in late-stage testing and doctors placed it as their third choice, according to the report.

Shares of Bank of America ( BAC ) are higher after Reuters reported that the bank may sell its stake in China Construction Bank. Bank of America has reportedly held talks with investment funds in Kuwait and Qatar about the matter, the report says.

Shares of Google ( GOOG ) are higher, while The Wall Street Journal reports that a Federal Trade Commission investigation is beginning to focus on whether the Internet giant keeps makers of Android operating system smartphones from using competitors' services. The article cites "people familiar with the probe." Further, investigators are querying whether Google give preferential placement to its own products on is website.

As part of its efforts to de-leverage the company, Liz Claiborne (LIZ) today announced it has sold the trademarks for the Curve fragrance brands and selected other smaller fragrance brands to Elizabeth Arden (RDEN) for $58.4 million in cash.

Shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) are higher after shares were halted briefly. According to MarketWatch, the Nasdaq said the oil refiner's shares took a five minute break from trading. The report questioned whether a trading glitch was responsible/ FactSet reported that there was a trade of $63.47, which would have been a near 7% drop in the stock.

Commodities are MIXED as December gold contracts are down 1.2% to $1,763 an ounce while September crude oil contacts are up 0.23% to $83.09 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.76% to $32.35 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 2.77%, to $10.38.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 1.72% at $171.57. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.47% to $59.58. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 1.81% to $37.75.



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.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AAP , BAC , CSCO , GILD , GOOG

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