Stocks March Higher To Start Month

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 |  Includes: DIA, QQQ, SPY
by: Midnight Trader
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average up 28.23 (+0.22%) to 12,980.30
  • S&P 500 up 8.41 (+0.62%) to 1,374.09
  • Nasdaq Composite Index up 22.08 (+0.74%) to 2,988.97

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

  • Nikkei 225 down 0.16%.
  • Hang Seng Index down 1.35%.
  • China Shanghai Composite Index down 0.10%.
  • FTSE 100 up 1.02%.

U.S. stocks rose Thursday, rebounding from Wednesday's losses as the weekly jobless report indicated that the unemployment situation in the U.S. is improving.

An unexpected drop in new jobless claims provided stocks with upward momentum before the opening bell. The Labor Department said 351,000 Americans filed initial applications for unemployment insurance last week, down from a slightly revised 353,000 claims the prior week and 4,000 below the average call of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The four-week moving average of claims is now at its lowest level in nearly four years, boosting confidence that employers are slowing the pace of layoffs.

In early trading hours enthusiasm was limited by a lower-than-expected reading on manufacturing activity during February. The Institute for Supply Management's factory index dropped to 52.4 from 54.1 in January, below the 54.5 median reading economists surveyed by Bloomberg News predicted. However, other measurements in the ISM report were more encouraging, including a big rise in export orders to a 59.5 reading last month from the 55 mark reported in January. Readings above 50 indicate growth.

Financial stocks rallied today, boosted by a report by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association that the $170 billion bailout and bond write-down for Greece did not constitute a credit event, meaning holders of credit default swaps on Greek debt cannot collect on those insurance agreements and working to ensure the recent rescue package won't unravel.

In company news, HUSA set a new 52-week low, after the company provided a negative update on drilling for its first well on the CPO-4 block in Colombia called the Tamandua #1. Also, Veolia (NYSE:VE) announced this morning that it is in talks to sell its transport business, and affirmed its plans for a multi-billion dollar restructuring. Shares rallied.

Oil prices climbed, and in the after hours session were above $110 a barrel. Gold for April delivery advanced $10.90, or 0.6%, to settle at $1,722.20 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) AMRN, Rebounding from big declines after U.S. Patent Office rejects application.

(+) HSFT, Forecasts Earnings Above Expectations

(+) MDR, Backs FY Analyst Views

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) SHS, Projected weak revenue growth in 2012

(-) BID, Reported weaker-than-expected Q4 results