Whether it was the heat, the humidity or the mid-week holiday, traders tuned out positive economic news both home and abroad and watched from the sidelines as stocks sank early before rallying to a mixed finish. The Dow slid 0.36% to 12,896, the S&P fell by 0.47% at 1,367 and the Nasdaq broke even on a fractional gain to 2,976.
The market absorbed two solid U.S. economic reports released on Thursday. First, claims for unemployment benefits fell during the latest week, as around 374,000 people filed, 14,000 fewer than the week before, the Labor Department reported. Companies also announced fewer layoffs in June according to data collected by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, with 37,551 planned job cuts, the lowest number in 13 months.
Meanwhile a report released by payroll-processing company ADP showed that private businesses added 176,000 jobs in June, a significant improvement over the month before. The Labor Department’s is set to release the latest jobs report Friday morning.
Two reports that didn’t follow suit were an Institute of Supply Management (ISM) report that showed a slowing in the U.S. service sector, and U.S. retailer reports that showed weak sales from a wide variety of names.
Perhaps because same-store sales results expectations were so low, the net result of all the news was that retail sector stocks were higher across the board, with high-end retailers Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) and Saks (NYSE:SKS) both up over 2%, while off-price retailers soared. Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST), Limited Brands (NYSE:LTD) and Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS) all rose, with ROST the leader of the pack, up just over 7% for the day.
Banking stocks took it on the chin during the day, as Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) were both down just under 3%, while JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) fell over 4% on the day.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) managed to buck a generally down day for technology stocks, rising over 1.7% to close above $600 per share for the first time since April. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) also improved, finishing up 1.4% to just under $600 per share.
- Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX): Up 13.65% ($9.77) to $13.56
- Leapfrog (NYSE:LF): Up 9% (94 cents) to $11.38
- Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX): Up 7.12% ($1.13) to $16.99
- Nokia (NYSE:NOK): Down 5.16% (11 cents) to $2.02
- Sprint (NYSE:S): Down 4.90% (17 cents) to $3.30
- Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI): Down 3.82% ($1.40) to $40.71
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he is long AAPL.