Buoyant economic data boosts U.S. stocks

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, December 15, 2011 18:14 EDT
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A stock trader watches the markets. Photo: AFP.
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NEW YORK — Positive data on the US jobs market, industrial activity and trade gave a boost to US stocks Thursday, but eurozone clouds continued to hover over the markets.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 45.33 points (0.38 percent) to finish at 11,868.81.

The broader S&P 500 rose 3.93 points (0.32 percent) to 1,215.75, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged up 1.70 points (0.07 percent) to 2,541.01.

Sentiment got a bump from the report that new jobless claims hit a three-year low last week, suggesting layoffs are slowing down and US businesses are feeling more confident.

“The latest unemployment claims readings are among the most promising signs in the recovery to date that the labor market may be seeing an uptick in job creation,” said RDQ Economics.

New data also showed that the deficit of the US current account, a broad measure of trade, fell to its lowest level in almost two years, and there were buoyant readings on the pace of manufacturing in the Philadelphia and New York regions.

Shares of shipper FedEx gained 8.00 percent on a better-than-expected jump in earnings per share for its fiscal second quarter.

Freeport-McMoran shares lost 1.5 percent as gold prices continued to sink.

Novellus, which makes machinery for the manufacture of computer chips, soared 16.3 percent after Lam Research, another chip equipment producer, agreed to buy it for $3.3 billion in stock. Lam shares fell 8.4 percent.

Medical equipment maker SonoSite’s shares leaped 27.1 percent after Fujifilm offered to buy it for $54 a share, compared to Wednesday’s close of $42.24. Fujifilm lost 1.5 percent.

In after-market trade, shares for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion lost 6.74 percent after it reported, after the market closed, a 71 percent drop in fiscal third-quarter earnings.

The fall stemmed mainly from writing off losses related to the Playbook, its failed push into the tablet computer market.

US bond prices eased slightly after Wednesday’s jump as the euro rebounded after its two-day plunge.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.91 Percent from 1.90 percent on Wednesday, while the 30-year edged up to 2.93 percent from 2.91 percent.

As bond prices go up, the yield goes down.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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