Stocks Hold Thursday Gains as Dow and S&P Close on New Highs

Michael Teague  |

Wednesday’s momentum on Wall Street was maintained throughout Thursday on news that the Department of Labor’s disappointing jobless claims figure from last Friday was revised from 388,000 down to 346,000, while analysts had expected a slighter drop to 360,000.

Meanwhile, as new Treasury Secretary Jack Lew made his first trip to Europe this week to meet with counterparts to push for economic stimulus over austerity measures, the European Central Bank released its monthly bulletin, in which it urged E.U. members to stay on course with current fiscal policies, while seeking to enact “growth-enhancing structural reforms.”

The emphasis on growth could indicate the beginning of a shift away from the harshest of the austerity measures currently being visited upon European citizens as a result of the continent’s economic woes, perhaps an attempt to avoid a repeat of the Cypriot banking crisis that had global markets on edge for two weeks in March.

The Dow hit another all-time high closing at 14,864.75 on a gain of 0.42 percent, led by drug manufacturers. Pfizer Inc. (PFE) was up 2.41 percent to close at $30.64, followed by Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK), up 1.26 percent to $47.43, as well as Johnson & Johnson (JNJ).

The S&P 500 also hit another record close for the day, gaining 0.36 percent for a finish at 1,593.37, with retail stocks providing the significant upward push. The Index’s top four performers were Ross Stores Inc. (ROST) up 6.24 percent to $64 on news that its Q1 earnings report would beat forecasts, followed by the embattled J.C. Penney (JCP) up 5.54 percent to $14.87 after news of CEO Ron Johnson’s departure as well as several other top executives gave investors some measure of hope about the company’s future.

Limited Brands Inc. came in third, with a gain of 5.15 percent to $50.65, while GameStop Corp. (GME) was up 4.46 percent to $31.25.

The Nasdaq ended the day with a modest gain of 0.09 percent to close at 3,300.16, helped up by ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ACAD), who gained a tremendous 64.37 percent to close at $13.10, the result of news that its new Parkinson’s treatment would not have to go through a third-phase trial in order to qualify to submit and New Drug Application with the FDA.

Skate and snowboard apparel retailer Zumiez (ZUMZ) was up 13.37 percent on the day to close at $28.23 after posting a strong March revenue report, while apparel retailer Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) was up 4.55 percent to $2.53.

Downward pressure resulting from many techs who fell on the International Data Corp.’s report showing that shipments of PCs in the first quarter of 2013 dropped 14 percent. This is the biggest single-quarter drop since this particular data began being collected in 1994, and is yet another indication of the massive consumer shift to mobile and tablet devices.

The biggest hits were taken by Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), down 6.45 percent to $20.88, Microsoft Corp. down 4.44 percent to $28.93, and Intel Corp. (INTC) down 1.95 percent to $21.83.

Stock price data is provided by IEX Cloud on a 15-minute delayed basis. Chart price data is provided by TradingView on a 15-minute delayed basis.

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