Momentum seems to be driving the stock market higher at this point as the major averages climbed for the fourth straight day and the Dow and S&P 500 hit new all-time highs on Thursday.
Initial claims data came in better than expected for the week ending April 6, which also contributed to investor enthusiasm.
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Overall, it has been a very strong week for the market ahead of a busy schedule of earnings reports due out next week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 63 points, or 0.42 percent, to 14,865.
The S&P 500 rose a little less than 6 points, or 0.36 percent, to close at 1,593.
The Nasdaq Composite rose around 3 points, or 0.09 percent, to 3,300.
Initial claims fell to 346,000 for the week ending April 6, compared to an upwardly revised 388,000 for the week ending March 30. This was substantially better than consensus estimates which expected initial claims to decline to 365,000.
Continuing claims fell from an upwardly revised 3.091 million for the week ending March 23 to 3.079 million for the week ending March 30. This was still above consensus estimates which expected continuing claims to fall to 3.058 million.
Crude oil prices fell on Thursday. Near the close of equities, NYMEX crude futures, the U.S. benchmark, were trading down 1.49 percent to $93.32. Brent crude futures had lost 1.55 percent to $104.18. Natural gas, however, rallied 1.59 percent and was last trading at $4.15.
Precious metals prices were mixed around the unchanged mark on Thursday. At last check, COMEX gold futures were up 0.17 percent to $1,563.50 while silver futures had lost 0.05 percent and were trading at $27.67. Copper was last up around 0.35 percent.
Grains were mostly higher on the day, although corn and wheat traded near the flat line. Approaching the closing bell for equities, corn futures were up 0.16 percent while wheat had added 0.04 percent. Movers in soft commodities included orange juice concentrate contracts, which lost 2.36 percent.
Bond prices moved slightly higher on the day. Near the close, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE:TLT) was up 0.18 percent to $120.12.
The yield on the 2-Year Note was unchanged at 0.23 percent while the yield on the 5-Year Note fell one basis point to 0.73 percent. The 10-Year Note yield lost one basis point to 1.79 percent while the 30-Year Bond yield was unchanged at 3.00 percent.
The U.S. dollar moved lower on Thursday. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, lost 0.31 percent and was last trading at $22.36.
The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last up 0.41 percent to $1.3112. Other currency movers included the USD/CAD which fell 0.39 percent, and the GBP/USD, which rose 0.49 percent.
Volatility and Volume
Despite higher prices for stocks on Thursday, the VIX rose slightly. The widely watched barometer of market fear rose a little better than 1 percent to 12.50.
Volume was lighter than normal once again with around 93 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) shares trading hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 124 million.
Heading into the closing bell, shares of Acadia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ACAD) were up more than 66 percent after the FDA decided that data from a late-stage study, along with supportive data from other studies, are sufficient to support the filing of a new drug application for its pimavanserin drug for the treatment of Parkinson's disease psychosis.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was last down around 5 percent on Thursday after the stock was downgraded by analysts at Goldman Sachs.
Fortinet (NASDAQ:FTNT) had lost around 13 percent near the close of trading after the networking company cut its first-quarter revenue and earnings guidance.
Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) surged almost 19 percent after the company reported its first profit since 2007 in the fourth-quarter.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) was last trading down around 7 percent on the session after a report from IDC said that world-wide shipments of laptops and desktops fell 14 percent in the first quarter. According to IDC, it was the sharpest drop since the firm began tracking the data in 1994.
Apogee Enterprises (NASDAQ:APOG) lost around 11 percent on the day after the company reported fourth-quarter results which were below Wall Street expectations.
Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) surged around 9 percent after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to "Overweight," citing the company's exposure to online gambling.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group (NASDAQ:SBGI) shares were trading up better than 8 percent near the close after the company announced the acquisition of Fisher Communications (NASDAQ:FSCI) for around $373 million.
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