The major indexes all finished in positive territory, as stocks were supported with good news from McDonald's, GM, and Countrywide. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 133.23 points (+1.00%), the S&P 500 increased 12.39 points (+0.84%), and the Nasdaq Composite Index underperformed gaining 8.99 points (+0.39%). Volume on the NYSE was slightly lower than average this week, coming in at 1.2 billion shares as advancers beat decliners 10:7.
Oil finished above $80/barrel for the first time ever today. The October contract finished at $80.09, with a high of $80.20. Last night, Hurricane Humberto hit Texas and caused minor damages.
On Thursday morning, the Labor Department released initial jobless claims. Jobless claims increased by 4,000 to 319,000; economists predicted the number between 325,000 to 330,000. Traders were relieved to see that the figures were better than expected after the awful jobs report on September 7th. Futures were higher after the number was reported. The 10-year bond finished lower 20/32 in price, pushing rates up 4.49%.
No sector finished down, and Consumer Discretionary (+1.38%) and Financials (+1.65%) led the way. Financials were greatly helped by Countrywide (+13.9%), who announced that it was able to secure $12 billion in financing. GM (+10.0%) surged on a Citigroup upgrade to a buy rating, which was based on the auto-manufacturer's union accepting in principle to a new health care trust fund that will save the company $95 billion. McDonald's (+6.0%) announced late Wednesday that it was upping its dividend 50%, as part of a plan to return $15 billion to $17 billion to investors through dividends and buybacks over the next two years.
Tomorrow, a flurry of economic numbers including Import and Export Prices (8:30 AM), Retail Sales (8:30 AM), Industrial Production (9:15 AM), Business Inventories (10:00 AM), and Consumer Sentiment (10:00 AM) will be released. Besides the PPI on Tuesday, these will be the last major economic numbers the fed will see before it makes its move on Tuesday afternoon.
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