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Strength On Wall Street Lifts S&P 500 Above 1,500 - U.S. Commentary


Stocks are extending a recent upward move during trading on Thursday, with the S&P 500 climbing above 1,500 for the first time in over five years. However, a sharp drop by shares of Apple (AAPL) has helped to keep the tech-heavy Nasdaq in the red.

The major averages currently continue to turn in a mixed performance, with the Nasdaq posting a modest loss. While the Nasdaq is down 2.69 points or 0.1 percent at 3,150.98, the Dow is up 85.43 points or 0.6 percent at 13,864.76 and the S&P 500 is up 5.68 points or 0.4 percent at 1,500.49.

The modest loss being posted by the Nasdaq is due in large part to the steep loss being posted by Apple, with the iPad and iPhone maker down by 10.4 percent after reporting disappointing quarterly results.

After the close of trading on Wednesday, Apple reported better than expected first quarter earnings but on weaker than expected sales. The company also reported iPhone sales that missed expectations and provided disappointing second quarter revenue guidance.

Meanwhile, most stocks have moved to the upside on the heels of the release of a report from the Labor Department showing that initial jobless claims unexpectedly fell to a new five-year low in the week ended January 19th.

The report showed that initial jobless claims dipped to 330,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's unrevised figure of 335,000. The drop surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to climb to 355,000.

With the unexpected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 318,000 in the week ended January 19, 2008.

While the Labor Department said seasonal distortions are likely still in effect, Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital, said the news on the job front is encouraging "even when you remove all of the noise."

Additionally, shares of Netflix (NFLX) have moved sharply on the day after the online video service provider reported an unexpected fourth quarter profit. Netflix is currently up by 38.7 percent.

Xerox (XRX), United Continental (UAL), and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) are also posting notable gains after reporting their quarterly results before the start of today's trading.

Sector News

Trucking stocks have shown a particularly strong move to the upside over the course of the trading day, resulting in a 3.6 percent gain by the Dow Jones Trucking Index. With the gain, the index has reached its best intraday level in well over a year.

Con-way (CNW), Arkansas Best (ABFS), and Knight Transportation (KNX) are turning in some of the trucking sector's best performances.

With Netflix helping to lead the way higher, considerable strength has also emerged among internet stocks. Reflecting the strength in the internet sector, the NYSE Arca Internet Index has jumped 2.5 percent to a twelve-year high.

Retail stocks are also seeing significant strength in mid-day trading, as reflected by the 1.5 percent gain being posted by the Dow Jones Retail Index. Kohl's (KSS) and Limited Brands (LTD) are posting notable gains on the day.

Healthcare provider, software, and electronic storage stocks are also posting strong gains, while gold stocks remain under pressure amid a decrease by the price of the precious metal.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in yet another mixed performance during trading on Thursday. While Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 1.3 percent, China's Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 1.1 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have slid firmly into the red on the heels of the upbeat jobs data. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 2.8 basis points at 1.861 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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