Stocks have moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday after initially showing a lack of direction. The markets have benefited from strength that has emerged among technology stocks amid a positive reaction to quarterly results from Cisco Systems (CSCO: Quote).
The major averages have seen some further upside in recent trading, reaching new highs for the session. The Dow is up 57.38 points or 0.4 percent at 13,222.16, the Nasdaq is up 23.73 points or 0.8 percent at 3,054.66 and the S&P 500 is up 7.32 points or 0.5 percent at 1,412.85.
Tech bellwether Cisco has helped to lead the way higher on Wall Street, with the networking giant surging up by 8.3 percent. Earlier in the session, Cisco reached its best intraday level in over three months.
The gain by Cisco comes after the company reported better than expected fourth quarter adjusted earnings. The company also announced a 75 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to $0.14 per share.
Cisco CFO Frank Calderoni said, "Cisco has the financial strength and flexibility to effectively invest in our business, pursue strategic opportunities, such as acquisitions, as well as return a minimum of 50% of our free cash flow annually through dividends and share repurchases to our shareholders."
Meanwhile, traders are also digesting another mixed batch of U.S. economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing a drop in housing starts but a substantial increase in building permits.
The report showed that housing starts fell 1.1 percent to an annual rate of 746,000 in July from the revised June estimate of 754,000. Economists had expected housing starts to dip to 750,000 from the 760,000 originally reported for the previous month.
At the same time, the Commerce Department said building permits surged up by 6.8 percent to an annual rate of 812,000 in July from the revised June rate of 760,000. Building permits are seen as an indicator of future housing activity.
A separate report from the Labor Department showed that initial jobless claims came in slightly higher than anticipated in the week ended August 11th, although the less volatile four-week moving average fell to its lowest level in over four months.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve also released a report showing that its index of regional manufacturing increased in August compared to the previous month but remained in negative territory for the fourth consecutive month. A negative reading indicates a contraction in regional manufacturing activity.
In other news, shares of Wal-Mart (WMT: Quote) are down by 3.4 percent after the retail giant reported second quarter earnings that exceeded analyst estimates but on weaker than expected revenues. Looking ahead, the company raised its full-year earnings guidance.
With Cisco leading the way higher, networking stocks have shown a strong move to the upside on the day. The NYSE Arca Networking Index has surged up by 3.1 percent, reaching its best intraday level in over a month.
Along with Cisco, Adtran (ADTN: Quote) and Emulex (ELX: Quote) are also posting strong gains, advancing by 4.9 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively.
Significant strength has also emerged among other tech stocks, with electronic storage, software, and semiconductor stocks posting notable gains.
Gold stocks have also moved sharply higher on the day, benefiting from an increase by the price of the precious metal. With gold for December delivery climbing $10.50 to $1,617.10 an ounce, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index is up by 2.7 percent.
Housing, steel, and oil service stocks have also shown strong moves the upside, moving higher along with most of the major sectors.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 1.9 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 0.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed just above the unchanged line, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries have showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than a basis point at 1.807 percent.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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