Stocks were higher with the Dow logging Thursday’s biggest gains and the S&P 500 making a new all-time high.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,040.39, +61.2, (+0.4%)
- S&P 500: 1,992.35, +5.8, (+0.3%)
- Nasdaq: 4,532.10, +5.6, (+0.1%)
And now, the top stories on Thursday:
1. The weekly report on initial jobless claims from the Department of Labour showed claims fell 14,000 from last week to 298,000. This was better than the 303,00 that was expected by economists, though the four-week moving average of claims did tick up slightly to 300,750 from 296,000 a week ago. Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macroeconomics said of the report: “The downward trend continues, and is consistent with strong payroll numbers.’
2. Markit’s flash PMI for August came in at 58.0, better than the 55.7 reading that was forecast and marking the highest reading in four years. “Overall, with job hiring gathering momentum and input buying expanding at the sharpest pace for at least seven years, it seems US manufacturers are increasingly confident that the recovery is firmly back on track and are gearing up for a sustained rebound in production schedules over the months ahead,” Markit’s Tim Moore said.
3. The Philly Fed’s latest manufacturing report came in way better than expected, with a headline reading of 28.0 against expectations for a reading of 19.7. This is the third straight month of gains for the index and marks the highest reading since March 2011. The report’s six-month survey of future growth also improved 8 points over the previous month to its highest level since June 1992.
4. Existing home sales data came in better than expected, with the pace of home sales rising 2.4% to an annualized pace of 5.15 million units. “The number of houses for sale is higher than a year ago and tamer price increases are giving prospective buyers less hesitation about entering the market,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. “More people are buying homes compared to earlier in the year and this trend should continue with interest rates remaining low and apartment rents on the rise.”
5. Sears fell more than 7% after reporting a quarterly loss of $US5.39 per share on sales that declined for the 30th straight quarter. BI’s Ashley Lutz broke down some of the reasons why the big box retailer is likely doomed, which in addition to declining sales includes failure to invest in its future and an unsustainable strategy of spinning off assets, which it will eventually run out of.
6. eBay shares gained more than 4% after The Information reported that the company is considering spinning off its PayPal unit as soon as next year. Earlier this year, activist investor Carl Icahn took a stake in eBay and said the company needed to spin-off PayPal, but in April Icahn and the company reached an agreement and Icahn agreed with the company’s decision not to spin-off PayPal at that time.
7. Oil prices have fallen sharply in the last few months, with Brent crude oil trading in London falling to around $US102 a barrel, 6% lower than mid-June highs. West Texas Intermediate crude traded in New York finished the day around $US94 a barrel and was recently trading as low as $US92 a barrel, down 10% from its prior highs. Citi analysts Tom Fitzpatrick, Shyam Devani, and Don Tobon wrote in a note to clients that these falling oil prices could provide a “shot in the arm” for the U.S. economy.
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