by Marc Bastow | August 16, 2012 4:53 pm
Well, that was a nice little pop, wasn’t it? Show investors another small ray of hope in economic numbers, throw in a dog-days light trading session, increase some dividends and you get a near-the-end of the week rally on the major indexes.
Of course, not all was rosy for everyone, as Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) confronted its first end-of-lockup period by touching an intra-day and historical (which hasn’t been that long) low of $19.69 before settling in at $19.88 as insiders dumped shares by the millions, literally. Nearly 150 million shares traded hands … or keystrokes. Of course, another 1.8 billion shares could hit the market over the next nine months, but that will have to wait.
The good news was the major benchmarks all finished up on the day, with the Nasdaq leading the way with a gain of 1.04% to 3,062. The S&P 500 finally got past that resistance around 1,406 and finished up 0.71 % at 1,415. And the Dow managed a 0.65% gain to end at 13,250.
On the economic front, weekly figures for initial jobless claims increased, but came in lower than expected. Meanwhile, reports on housing starts and building permits showed further momentum in the housing market. Recent data suggest housing is coming back to life, as home prices and new construction have started to pick up in recent months and foreclosures have slowed.
Earnings news propelled the Nasdaq, as Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) announced both a blowout quarter and a substanial (75%) dividend hike after the bell on Wednesday. Cisco shares bounced ahead nearly 10% on the day. The entire sector joined in the celebration, with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) up nearly 2%, and Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) 1.5% higher. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), maintained its recent momentum, up just under 1%.
Retailers were all over, with Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) the major climber. Eddie Lampert’s brainchild announced it lost less than analysts estimated as lower expenses offset weaker-than-expected sales. Investors, who anticipate Lampert’s next move to be selling Sears’ Land’s End business, bid the stock up 5%.
The same could not be said for the discount retail segment, which took a small bath as industry leader Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and small-town operator Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) both disappointed analysts. Walmart’s sin was posting second-quarter earnings that trailed analyst estimates, while Dollar tree committed a two-fer of barely missing earnings estimates and announcing lowered future earnings and revenue growth. Walmart shares fell just over 3%, while Dollar Tree rallied a bit during the day to fall just below 1%.
Finally, Sprint (NYSE:S) took a breather from a breathtaking run. The company slipped nearly 5% on no news other than investors taking some profits, and perhaps advice from InvestorPlace IPO Playbook Editor Tom Taulli. I’m just saying…
Friday’s earnings releases include Foot Locker (NYSE:FL) and J.M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM). Monday brings InvestorPlace Dependable Dividend Lowe‘s (NYSE:LOW).
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he was long MSFT and AAPL.
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