Us close: S&P 500 hits another high as jobless claims fall

Sharecast

LONDON (ShareCast) - - Jobless claims fall 26k to three-month low
- S&P 500 hits another record high
- Focus turns to non-farm payrolls
- Staples (NasdaqGS: SPLS - news) slumps on sales miss, store closures

Dow Jones: 0.38%
Nasdaq: -0.14%
S&P 500: 0.17%

US stock markets finished mostly higher on Thursday with the S&P 500 hitting yet another record after jobless claims fell more than expected.

Investors were largely shrugging off comments from Richard Fisher, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who raised concerns about the "eye-popping" valuation levels of some stocks.

The S&P 500, which closed flat on Wednesday after hitting an all-time high the previous session, rose 0.2% to 1,877.03, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4% to close at 16,421.89.

The Nasdaq Composite, however, erased earlier gains to finish 0.1% lower at 4,352.13 after being dragged lower by a number of heavyweight biotechnology and pharmaceutical stocks.

The focus was turning towards the all-important US unemployment report on Friday with consensus forecasts pointing to a 150,000 increase in non-farm payrolls for February, up from the measly 113,000 gain in January.

Despite the pick-up in growth month-on-month, the 150,000 increase is still markedly less than what analysts and policymakers are hoping for in light of the Federal Reserve's tapering of monetary stimulus.

Chris Beauchamp, Market Analyst at IG (LSE: IGG.L - news) , said: "The look forward to non-farm payrolls is not particularly optimistic, given the weak ADP (Frankfurt: W7L.F - news) report yesterday and knowledge that the implications of difficult weather in February is that job creation may well be weak."

Jobless claims fall, factory orders disappoint

Initial weekly US unemployment claims dropped by 26,000 to a three-month low of 323,000, well below the consensus forecast for a fall to 335,000.

Factory orders declined by 0.7% in January, worse than the 0.5% drop predicted by analysts. December's decline was revised lower to 2%, from a 1.5% fall previously.

Non-farm labour productivity rose less than initially estimated in the fourth quarter of 2013, expanding at an annualised pace of just 1.8%. This was down from the preliminary reading of a 3.2% gain and less than expectations for a revision to 2.2%.

Staples, Piwelworks, Costco

The share price of Staples dropped sharply after the office supplier retailer announced a $500m cost-saving programme and the closure of 225 stores in North America, equal to 10% of its selling space. The news came after sales fell by 10.6% to $5.87bn in the fourth quarter, compared with the consensus forecast for $5.97bn.

Piwelworks, the semiconductor firm, saw shares surge by as much as a half after saying that sales to iPhone maker Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) accounted for over 10% of its annual revenue. The company did not disclose the tech giant as a customer last year.

Shares of Costco Wholesale slipped after unveiling a fall in fiscal second-quarter earnings per share that came in below forecasts.

Sangamo Biosciences (NasdaqGS: SGMO - news) shares spiked higher after reporting that its experimental treatment was able to lower the quantity of HIV in the blood of some patients with AIDS.

Energy stocks were among the best performers on Thursday with Valero Energy (Frankfurt: VLE.F - news) , Marathon Petroleum and Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU - news) rising strongly.


S&P 500 - Risers
Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) $52.88 +5.17%
International Game Technology (NYSE: IGT - news) (IGT) $15.85 +4.34%
Marathon Petroleum (MPC (KOSDAQ: 050540.KQ - news) ) $89.48 +3.83%
FMC Technologies Inc (NYSE: FTI - news) . (FTI) $52.57 +3.71%
Tesoro Corp. (TSO (HKSE: 8145.HK - news) ) $53.55 +3.50%
Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM) $77.29 +3.32%
United States Steel Corp (NYSE: X - news) . (X) $25.08 +2.62%
Lam Research Corp (Frankfurt: LAR.F - news) . (LRCX) $53.35 +2.54%
Fluor Corp. (FLR) $80.12 +2.53%
Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU) $17.63 +2.44%

S&P 500 - Fallers

Staples Inc. (SPLS) $11.35 -15.30%
Actavis plc (NYSE: ACT - news) (ACT (KOSDAQ: 131400.KQ - news) ) $213.95 -4.72%
Seagate Technology Plc (STX (KSE: 011810.KS - news) ) $50.10 -4.68%
Celgene Corp (Berlin: CG3.BE - news) . (CELG) $156.61 -4.06%
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) $79.94 -3.64%
Forest Laboratories Inc (NYSE: FRX - news) . (FRX) $95.18 -3.60%
Gilead Sciences Inc (NasdaqGS: GILD - news) . (GILD) $79.92 -3.56%
Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) $113.26 -2.76%
Walgreen Co (NYSE: WAG - news) . (WAG) $66.71 -2.58%
Mylan Inc (NasdaqGS: MYL - news) . (MYL) $54.54 -2.33%

Dow Jones I.A - Risers
American Express Co. (AXP) $93.52 +1.50%
Caterpillar Inc (NYSE: CAT - news) . (CAT (Taiwan OTC: 4990.TWO - news) ) $97.60 +1.28%
JP Morgan Chase (Other OTC: JFTTL - news) & Co. (JPM) $58.90 +1.27%
General Electric Co. (GE) $26.22 +1.12%
Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE - news) . (NKE) $78.22 +1.03%
Walt Disney Co. (DIS) $83.34 +0.80%
Merck & Co. Inc (Xetra: 6MK.DE - news) . (MRK) $57.26 +0.67%
AT&T Inc (NYSE: T - news) . (T) $32.34 +0.65%
McDonald's Corp. (MCD) $95.58 +0.59%
Intel Corp. (INTC) $24.63 +0.57%

Dow Jones I.A - Fallers
Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE - news) . (PFE) $32.46 -0.89%
Home Depot Inc. (HD) $82.41 -0.60%
Unitedhealth Group Inc. (UNH) $77.64 -0.45%
Cisco Systems Inc (NasdaqGS: CSCO - news) . (CSCO) $21.82 -0.23%
Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) $93.76 -0.04%

Nasdaq 100 - Risers
Baidu Inc (Xetra: B1C.DE - news) . (BIDU) $184.64 +5.77%
Nxp Semiconductors Nv (NasdaqGS: NXPI - news) (NXPI) $59.91 +4.05%
Dish Corp. (DISH) $62.15 +2.76%
DIRECTV (Frankfurt: DIG1.F - news) (DTV) $79.99 +2.43%
Liberty Global (NasdaqGS: LBTYA - news) plc Series A (LBTYA) $44.16 +2.08%
Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) $72.69 +1.95%
Mondelez International Inc (Stuttgart: KTF.SG - news) . (MDLZ) $34.88 +1.60%
Discovery Communications Inc (NasdaqGS: DISCA - news) . Class A (DISCA) $86.00 +1.51%
Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (CTSH) $107.09 +1.37%
Mattel Inc (NasdaqGS: MAT - news) . (MAT) $37.97 +1.36%

Nasdaq 100 - Fallers
Staples Inc. (SPLS) $11.35 -15.30%
Seagate Technology Plc (STX) $50.10 -4.68%
Celgene Corp. (CELG) $156.61 -4.06%
Illumina Inc (NasdaqGS: ILMN - news) . (ILMN) $171.37 -3.84%
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) $79.94 -3.64%
Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) $79.92 -3.56%
Vimpelcom Ltd Ads (VIP) $9.49 -3.16%
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc (Xetra: 887856 - news) . (GMCR) $107.12 -3.09%
Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) $113.26 -2.76%
Mylan Inc. (MYL) $54.54 -2.33%

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