Markets

Midday Update: Stocks Higher With Oil, But Gains Tempered by Earnings, Jobless Claims

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Wall Street Thursday was struggling to hold onto modest gains from this morning, with a rally for oil prices being offset by a larger-than-expected increase in weekly unemployment claims as well as lukewarm quarterly results from scores of companies on one of the busiest days of the current earnings season. Of the 10 S&P 500 sectors, energy stocks were outperforming the broader markets by almost 1% while defensive sectors like utilities and telecoms were underperforming.

Weekly jobless claims increased 17,000 to 274,000 during the week ended April 30, exceeding expectations for a gain of just 5,000. Today's data follows Wednesday's underwhelming 156,000 increase in private payrolls, and precedes the Labor Department's non-farm payroll report tomorrow.

Corporate earnings were a mixed bag, starting with Tesla ( TSLA ), with the electric-car manufacturer reporting a smaller-than-expected net loss and also issued an impressive sales goal of 500,000 per year by 2018. Chinese online marketplace Alibaba ( BABA ) also beat estimates but pharmaceutical giant Merck ( MRK ) issued mixed Q1 results and 2016 guidance that was in-line with street expectations.

Oil was on the plus side ifor a second straight day after massive wildfires in Canada and turmoil in Libya driving the price of West Texas Intermediate 3% higher, also providing a big push for energy stocks.

Overseas, equity markets finished mixed with the UK's FTSE squeezing out a slim gain close after an unexpected drop in the UK services sector index caused some weakness early this morning. The EU-zone Stoxx 50 closed in the red, giving up early gains tied to higher oil and upbeat earnings.

Crude oil was up $1.35 to $45.13 per barrel. Natural gas was down 6 cents to $2.08 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $3.10 to $1,277.60 per ounce, while silver was up 5 cents to $17.35 per ounce. Copper was down 3 cents to $2.16 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 2.46% to $11.06 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 2.79% to $6.74. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 2.37% to 23.97 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.24% to $121.91. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.09% to $16.48.

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

NYSE Composite Index up 14.82 (+0.14%) to 10,301.06

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 37.91 (+0.21%) to 17,689.17

S&P 500 up 3.06 (+0.15%) to 2,054.18

Nasdaq Composite Index up 6.95 (+0.15%) to 4,732.59

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index down 3.11%

Hang Seng Index down 0.37%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.22%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.09%

CAC 40 down 0.11%

DAX up 0.24%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.52%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.07%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.10%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) SYNC (+136.20%) Wins $100 million per year contract from AT&T ( T )

(+) AAWW (+27.21%) Beats EPS estimates on in-line revenue, said it will provide air cargo services to Amazon ( AMZN )

(+) EPE (+26.02%) Beat EPS estimates by 18 cents

(-) LGCY (+20.82%) Reported Q1 profit versus expectations for a loss

(+) FCEL (+6.45%) Announced partnership with Exxon (XOM) to use fuel cells to scrub carbon from power plants

(+) UNXL (+4.05%) Wins contract from Japanese PC maker

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) PTX (-42.05%) Reported wider-than-expected Q1 loss on below-consensus revenue

(-) FRSH (-24.40%) Missed Q1 EPS and revenue estimates, weak comp store sales

(-) FIT (-15.26%) Expects Q2 earnings below street consensus

(-) EBIO (-8.53%) Q1 loss widens over year-ago period

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

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

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