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Midday Update: Stocks Holding Moderatge Gains Supported by Health Care, Tech Stocks

Stocks were holding on to modest gains during Thursday trading, with gains for shares of energy and healthcare companies helping offset selling pressure that followed economic data this morning and calls by an influential hedge-fund manager to trim stock holdings. Dow component stock Apple ( AAPL ) continued to support the blue-chip index one day after the iPhone maker's annual conference, also contributing to a nearly 1% rise today for the Nasdaq Composite index.

Economic data today cast little light on how the Federal Open Market Committee Meeting next week will conclude. First-time jobless claims declined by 6,000 applications last week compared with the prior week, the Labor Department said, underscoring the continuing strength of the job market. But import prices fell an above-consensus 1.8% during August - doubling up the previous month's decline - and showing inflation still has been running well below the Fed's 2% target rate. Export prices also fell sharply although the 1.4% drop was largely due to the influence of a stronger dollar against other currencies.

Also, wholesale inventories fell by 0.1% during July while sales declined 0.3%, both missing the market consensus expecting a 0.3% increase and a 0.1% rise, respectively, indicating lowered expectations for consumer spending.

European markets all finished lower Thursday, with the UK's FTSE-100 index falling for a third day after minutes of the recent Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting indicated the central bank remains on track to raise rates early next year

Crude oil was up $1.35 to $45.98 per barrel. Natural gas was up 7 cents to $2.72 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $8.90 to $1,111.00 per ounce while silver was up 9 cents to $14.67 per ounce. Copper was up 2 cents to $2.45 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 2.34% to $14.85 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 2.19% to $12.83. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 0.80% to 13.23 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.28% to $106.43 The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.57% to $14.02.

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

NYSE Composite Index up 29.23 (+0.29%) to 10,018.13

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 70.22 (+0.43%) to 16,323.79

S&P 500 up 9.66 (+0.50%) to 1,951.70

Nasdaq Composite Index up 37.53 (+0.79%) to 4,794.06

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index down 2.51%

Hang Seng Index down 2.57%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 1.39%

FTSE 100 Index down 1.18%

CAC 40 down 1.46%

DAX down 0.90%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index +0.28%

NYSE Financial Sector Index +0.34%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index +0.63%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) ENVI (+113.76%) To be acquired by Ericsson ( ERIC ) for $4.10 per share

(+) CNW (+33.66%) XPO Logistics ( XPO ) agrees to buy Con-way for $3 billion

(+) CYTX (+23.50%) Scleroderma therapy benefit sustained at one-year follow up

(+) APRI (+6.81%) Licenses rights to Vitaros from Allergan ( AGN )

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) AMID (-15.34%) Priced an underwritten public offering of 7.5 million units at $11.31 each.

(-) LULU (-13.79%) Q3 guidance misses views

(-) VTAE (-12.33%) Continues to build on Wednesday's gains after the company made public the positive top-line results from Phase 1 study of VTP-43742

(-) KKD (-11.62%) Q2 misses views, guides FY EPS below Street

(-) USAC (-11.11%) Prices public offering of 4 million shares at 5% discount

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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