Thursday kicked off with a boom as the S&P 500 reached a new milestone early in the day, breaking through the 1700 level after the Labor Department reported first-time claims for unemployment benefits sank to a 5-year low, adding to Wednesday’s positive jobs and GDP reports.
Additional good news came in the form of increased car sales in July — although the results were below estimates — and all three indices finished ahead broadly by day’s end.
The Nasdaq finished with the biggest gain Thursday, roaring ahead 1.36% to 3675.74 on the strength of a rally in technology stocks. The S&P 500 maintained its early momentum and finished up 1.25% to 1706.87, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.83% to 15628.02.
Leading the way on the Nasdaq was Yelp (YELP), which soared more than 23% after announcing it had cut its losses for the second quarter, and Northland upgraded its shares from “market perform” to “outperform.”
SanDisk (SNDK), which initiated a dividend of 22.5 cents per share and announced a buyback program, roared ahead just under 6% on the day. Facebook (FB) shares rose over 2%, but once again failed to close above its $38 IPO price.
Meanwhile, Google (GOOG) moved ahead 2%, and heavily weighted Apple (AAPL) — boosted by an analyst upgrade from Jefferies — rose nearly 1%.
Bank stocks also managed a nice rally, with Bank of America (BAC) and Goldman Sachs (GS) up more than 2% and Wells Fargo (WFC) and Citigroup (C) up over 1%.
On the earnings front, Exxon Mobil (XOM) was the biggest loser on the Dow with a 1% loss after announcing Q2 earnings of $1.55 per share, well below analyst estimates of $1.89. Top-line results were no better, as revenues declined 16.4% year-over-year to $106.5 billion, although that bested estimates. Sectormate Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) also saw shares fall on disappointing results, with adjusted earnings coming in at $1.46 per share compared to estimates of $1.88 per share and revenue down nearly 4%. Shares lost nearly 6% on the news.
However, ConocoPhillips (COP) managed to move ahead nearly 2% after posting an earnings beat for the second quarter.
Procter & Gamble (PG) moved ahead over 1% despite second-quarter earnings coming in 48% below last year, at 64 cents per share, down from $1.28 per share. P&G took large expense hits for restructuring charges, and a 2.2% rise in revenues to $20.66 billion helped keep the stock in positive territory for the day.
Finally, shares of JCPenney (JCP) managed to rally more than 2% early before ending fractionally lower after conflicting reports emerged about CIT Group (CIT) cutting off funding for some of JCP’s suppliers. The reports first surfaced in The New York Post, but they were quickly denied by JCP.
Earnings notables for Friday include Chevron (CVX) and Viacom (VIAB).
- Renren (RENN): Up 19.5% (65 cents) to $3.98.
- Zillow (Z): Up 14.8% ($19.95) to $84.83.
- Ruckus Wireless (RKUS): Up 10.4% ($1.39) to $14.70.
- Sally Beauty (SBH): Down 12.1% ($3.68) to $26.83.
- Sunpower (SPWR): Down 13.6% ($3.75) to $23.90.
- World Fuel Services (INT): Down 6.3% ($2.43) to $35.91.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he is long AAPL and XOM.