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Midday Update: Stocks Rally on Bullish Data, Driving S&P To Record High; Dow Gains Despite Exxon Dissapointment

Stocks are higher this afternoon after initial jobless claims fell to a five-year low, with the S&P 500 climbing past 1,700 for the first time ever and reaching a new record high. The Dow Jones Industrials Average also is enjoying triple-digit gains, despite disappointing earnings today from component company Exxon Mobil Corp ( XOM ), which saw Q2 net income fall 57% from the same quarter last year.

Economic data today was overwhelmingly bullish as initial claims fell by a greater-than-expected 17,000 to 326,000 during the week ended July 27. The July purchasing manager's index improved to 53.7, above Wall Street estimates of a gain to 53.1. And while construction spending fell 0.6% in June compared with estimates calling for a 0.4% increase, the number was all but ignored when the Markit ISM index jumped to 55.4 reading, well above the consensus for a gain to only 53.1 from 50.9 in June.

In Europe, stocks were also higher, buoyed by upbeat Chinese manufacturing data as well as the decision by both the European Central Bank and Bank of England to leave interest rates unchanged. Investors cheered encouraging comments from ECB President Mario Draghi regarding the EU economy, and bullish German and EU manufacturing data.

Crude oil is up $2.61 to $107.64. Natural gas is down $0.07 to $3.37 per 1 million BTU. Gold is up $0.30 to $1,1313.20 an ounce, while silver is up $0.03 $19.66 an ounce. Copper is up $0.06 to $3.18.

Among energy ETFs , the United States Oil Fund is up 2.46% to $38.28 with the United States Natural Gas Fund down 1.81% to $17.88. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF is down 1.02% to 26.71 while SPDR Gold Shares are down 0.77% to $126.98. The iShares Silver Trust is down 0.57% to $19.03.

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

NYSE Composite Index up 100.49 (+1.05%) to 9,659.32

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 122.17 (+0.79%) to 15,621.71

S&P 500 up 17.52 (+1.04%) to 1,703.25

Nasdaq Composite Index up 38.60 (+1.06%) to 3,664.97

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 2.47%

Hang Seng Index up 0.94%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 1.77%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.92%

CAC 40 up 1.25%

DAX up 1.63%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.39%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 1.37%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.45%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) F (+1.49%) Ford reported an 11% increase for U.S. vehicle sales in July compared to a year ago, the best monthly reading for July sales since 2006.

(+) YELP (+21.36%) Shares rally to new 52-week high after the company reported Q2 sales of $55 million topping the consensus of $53.29 million.

(+) SNDK (+3.97%) On Wednesday Sandisk authorized a share buyback program of $2.5 billion and announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0. 22 cents per share of common stock.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) XOM (-2.19%) The oil giant reported Q2 earnings of $1.55 per share, down from $3.41 from in the year-ago period and below analyst's estimates of $1.90 per share

(-) ELNK (-7.66%) Shares fall on worse than expected loss of $0.11 per share versus estimates of a loss of $0.04 per share

(-) SBH (-10.42%) Sally Beauty reported Q2 earnings of $0.42 per share, below the Capital IQ consensus of $0.43.

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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