U.S. Markets Move Higher on Jobless Claims Data; Corporate Earnings In Focus

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U.S. equity indexes have caught a bid as jobless claims data came in better than forecast, and corporate earnings continue to show relative strength despite the strong global economic crosswinds of the past quarter.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, jobless claims fell to 339,000 last week, compared to forecasts for a jobless claims reading of 352,000. Last week's jobless claims were at the lowest level in a month and a half, while the average of new claims over the past month, dropped by 4,500 to 357,500. Continuing claims, which reflect the number of people already receiving benefits, decreased by 93,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.0 million in the week ended April 13.

Prior to the release of the data stock futures were already moving higher, boosted by another busy day of corporate earnings. Exxon Mobil (XOM, $88.35, -1.2%, but above a day low $87.65) announced that its first-quarter profit edged up 1%, Dow Chemical (DOW, $33.80, +5%) reported better-than-expected earnings but lower revenue while UPS' (UPS, near $85, +2%) earnings beat expectations, while revenues were in line.

Overseas, European markets opened weak following preliminary estimates that the UK's economy grew by 0.3%, Spanish unemployment rose to a record 27.2%, while European car sales sank to their lowest level since the mid-1990s. Despite all the negatives, however, bourses across the pond have reversed course in recent dealings to trade modestly higher. Asian markets, meanwhile ended mixed.

After hours, coffee store giant Starbucks ( SBUX ) is set to report earnings. SBUX shares are closing in on a five-year top of $62.00 per share, currently trading up 0.5% at $60.10 having touched a day high $60.50. Shares have a 52-week high of $61.15.

Commodities were mostly surging at mid-day, with crude oil continuing to recover from a 2-week beat down, rising $0.68 to trade at $92.11 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.04 to $4.162 per million BTUs.

Gold futures were up $30.80 per ounce to $1,454.50, attempting to recover from last week's yesterday's massive bloodbath in the precious metals sector, while silver was up $1.117 to $23.995 per ounce. Copper was down $0.0935 to $3.2585.

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

NYSE Composite up 61.73 (+0.68%) to 9,208.18

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 65.99 (+0.45%) to 14,742.99

S&P 500 up 9.32 (+0.59%) to 1,588.11

Nasdaq Composite Index up 24.83 (+0.76%) to 3,294.48

GLOBAL SENTIMENT:

Nikkei 225 Index up 0.60%

Hang Seng Index up 0.98%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.87%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.27%

DAX up 0.90%

CAC 40 up O.01%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES:

NYSE Energy Sector Index (^NYE) up 92.35 (+0.71%) at 13,067.07

NYSE Financial Sector Index (^NYK) up 45.47 (+0.81%) to 5,645.08

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index (^NYP) down 5.10 (+0.06%) to 9,165.35

UPSIDE MOVERS:

(+) AKAM (+20%, hit new 52 week high of $43.42) Shares jump following the company's after hours Wednesday report that in Q1 its revenue was $368 mln, vs. the analyst consensus of $357.7 mln on Cap IQ. EPS was $0.51, vs. expectations of $0.47 per share.

(+) FFIV (+4.5%) Stock rises after being upgraded by analysts at Nomura to a Buy rating from Neutral. The firm also raised its price target on the stock to $88 from $85 a share.

(+) INFN (+54.5%, hits new 52-week high) Issue hits new 52-week top of $8.55, responding enthusiastically after being upgraded to a Buy rating from a Hold by analysts at Needham & Co. The firm also set the price target on the stock at $12 a share.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS:

(-) XIDE (-23.1%, hits new 52-week low) Shares slide to new 52-week bottom of $0.98 after the the company announced it was suspending operations at its Vernon secondary lead recycling facility. The shutdown is in compliance with an order dated April 24 from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

(-) WHX (-23.4% at $7.30 but above a day low $6.51) Stock tumbles in the absence of corporate news, possibly related to a blog post on Seeking Alpha saying that shareholders are going to lose half of their value in the company.

(-) SUPN (-10%, nearer year lows) Issue falls after the company said it intends to offer, subject to market and other considerations, $75.0 million aggregate principal amount of Convertible Senior Notes due 2019 in a private offering.



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: SBUX

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