U.S. Stocks Rise on Data, Earnings

By Dow Jones Business News, 

By Saumya Vaishampayan and Chris Dieterich

U.S. stocks inched higher on Thursday, bolstered by strong labor-market data and corporate-earnings reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 24 points, or 0.1%, to 17110.

The S&P 500 rose two points, or 0.1%, to 1988 and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 10 points, or 0.2%, to 4483. Both indexes were on course for their third straight day of gains.

Stocks rose after Americans filed the fewest applications for unemployment benefits last week since February 2006. Initial jobless claims fell to 284,000, well below expectations for 305,000.

Investors also focused on quarterly corporate results. Early reports have been mostly positive; analysts have revised higher their estimates for earnings increases among S&P 500 companies, now expecting a gain of 5.6% versus 4.9% previously, according to FactSet.

Facebook jumped 6.9% after the social network reported that profit more than doubled and revenue topped estimates late on Wednesday. Facebook's strong report showed that the company was successfully navigating the shift to mobile advertising as it continues to add users.

Caterpillar fell 2.8% after earnings topped analysts' expectations, but revenue came up short. The company pointed to weaker sales in China, Africa and the Middle East and tightened the range of its revenue estimates.

Results "in general have been great," said Kent Engelke, chief economic strategist at Capitol Securities Management. "More importantly, we're also having optimistic forward-looking statements" on earnings growth, he said.

Ford Motor rose 1.3% after the car maker beat earnings expectations, reporting strength in North America, Europe and Asia.

General Motors slumped 1.8% after its profit sank 80% as the auto maker was hit by recalls.

Shortly after the opening bell, new home sales in June are expected to decline to 478,000 from 504,000 a month earlier. Separately, manufacturers located near the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank are due to post a July survey results on economic conditions.

A modest start for U.S. stocks followed gains overseas.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.4%, buoyed by data showing that private-sector activity in the euro zone expanded faster than expected in July. The composite purchasing managers index for the region, which measures manufacturing and service-sector activity, rose to a three-month high of 54.

The Chinese manufacturing sector rose for the second month in a row in July, with the HSBC preliminary, or "flash," manufacturing PMI rising to 52 from 50.7 a month earlier, reaching an 18-month high. China's Shanghai Composite rose 1.3%, while Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.3%.

Yields on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose to 2.495%, from 2.464% late on Wednesday. Gold futures fell 0.6% to $1,297.60 a troy ounce. Crude-oil futures lost 0.1% to $103.00 a barrel. The dollar lost some ground against the euro but rose versus the yen.

Under Armour Inc. added 12% after the company reported that strong footwear and apparel sales buoyed its second- quarter results, and the company again raised its outlook for full-year sales.

Qualcomm fell 5.3% after the wireless-tech company noted some worries about licensees in China, even as it lifted its full-year adjusted earnings outlook.

Write to Saumya Vaishampayan at saumya.vaishampayan@wsj.com and Chris Dieterich at christopher.dieterich@wsj.com

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  Copyright (c) 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

This article appears in: International

Referenced Stocks: CAT

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