The S&P 500 was powered to a five-year high on Thursday thanks to optimistic earnings momentum, a number of positive corporate headlines and encouraging data on the Chinese exports front.
When it was all said and done, the S&P surged ahead 0.76% to finish at 1,472.12. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.57% at 13,466.80 — led by bank stocks Bank of America (NYSE:BAC, +3.1%) and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM, +1.5%), among others — and the Nasdaq pushed ahead 0.51% to 3,121.76.
Finnish tech firm Nokia (NYSE:NOK) rallied up more than 18% after the company announced it had sold more than 6.6 million smartphones — powered by 4.4 million Lumia units — to mark its first increase in smartphone sales in a year.
Ford (NYSE:F) announced it was doubling its dividend, and investors were immediately rewarded with a 2% jump in share price as the automaker said it expects to continue future increases based on record profit margins and improving cash. The new dividend represents a 2.9% yield on Thursday’s closing price.
Supervalu (NYSE:SVU) continued a monthslong rebound after announcing it had reached a deal to sell five of its biggest grocery chains — Albertson’s, Acme, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s and Star Market — for $100 million in cash and more than $3 billion in debt to private-equity fund Cerberus. SVU finished up 14%.
Luxury retailer Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) lost more than 4% after reporting that holiday season sales improved just 4% worldwide — near the low end of expectations — and warned about 2013 earnings growth because of economic uncertainty in its major markets. Moving in sympathy, upscale retailer Michael Kors (NYSE:KORS) dropped 2% while luxury accessory company Coach (NYSE:COH) fell just less than 1%.
The battle for the soul of Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) also continued Thursday. HLF shares fell 2% while hedge-fund managers jockeyed for control of the slumping nutritional products maker. In a presentation, Herbalife laid out its case as a legitimate enterprise — and not the pyramid scheme claimed by Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman.
Finally, Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) investors found their shares worth over 5% more by the end of the trading day after the company said its online sales were gaining ground on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) in some regions, crediting recently instituted sales taxes on Amazon for the improvement.
- Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ISIS): Up 10.3% ($1.23) to $13.22.
- Yelp (NYSE:YELP): Up 6.9% ($1.43) to $22.19.
- Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN): Up 4.6% ($1.89) to $42.64.
- Molycorp (NYSE:MCP): Down 22.7% ($2.45) to $8.35.
- Dendreon (NASDAQ:DNDN): Down 6.3% (34 cents) to $5.10.
- Ruby Tuesday (NYSE:RT): Down 5.8% (48cents) to $7.83.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he does not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.