The U.S. stock market rose on Thursday to close out the trading week.
Helped by portfolio managers looking to end the quarter on a strong note, the S&P 500 took out its previous all-time high closing price. Although jobless claims rose last week, market participants remain optimistic about 2013 as the S&P 500 rose around 10 percent in the first-quarter.
On Thursday, the U.S. dollar was slightly lower and the euro rose, which helped to support risk appetite. Volume and news flow was light on the session, but the major averages all managed to end the day with moderate gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 52 points, or 0.36 percent, to just below 14,579.
The S&P 500 added 6 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,569.
The Nasdaq rose 11 points, or 0.34 percent, to 3,268.
Initial jobless claims rose for the week ending March 23, up 16,000 to 357,000. This was ahead of economists' consensus estimates of 338,000.
Continuing jobless claims for the week ending March 16 fell by 27,000 to 3.05 million. This was slightly ahead of consensus expectations of 3.04 million.
Although jobless claims rose for the week ending March 23, this is not necessarily the start of a trend and labor conditions still appear to be improving overall.
GDP - Third Estimate
GDP in the fourth-quarter was revised upward for the third estimate to 0.4 percent. This was a positive development as the figure both came in ahead of consensus estimates of 0.3 percent and the third estimate which showed a 0.1 percent contraction.
The revision was primarily due to nonresidential investment which jumped 13.2 percent in the third estimate versus a 9.7 percent in the second estimate.
Manufacturing in the Chicago region fell in March according to PMI data released on Thursday. The Chicago PMI reading fell from 56.8 in the previous month to 52.4. This was below consensus expectations of a decline to 56.5.
Crude oil was slightly higher on Thursday. Near the closing bell, NYMEX crude contracts had added 0.54 percent to $97.04 while Brent crude was higher by 0.29 percent to $109.96. Natural gas futures fell 1.43 percent to $4.01 on the session.
Precious metals were lower on the day with COMEX gold futures falling around 0.66 percent to $1,595.40 near the close of equities. Silver futures were last down 0.90 percent to $28.37. Copper futures had lost a little better than 1 percent late in the day.
Volatility showed up in the grains complex as both corn and wheat were crushed on Thursday. Corn futures lost over 5 percent on the day and wheat was trading down almost 7 percent. Movers in soft commodities included sugar and orange juice, with each losing around 1 percent.
Near the close of equity trading, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE:TLT) was down around 0.40 percent to $117.90. The fall in prices sent yields higher.
The 2-Year and 10-Year yield were unchanged at 0.24 percent and 1.85 percent, respectively. The 5-Year Note yield rose three basis points to 0.76 percent and the 30-Year bond yield climbed one basis point to 3.10 percent.
The U.S. dollar was slightly lower on the day. Near the close, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of currencies, had lost 0.26 percent to $22.60.
The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last trading up around 0.34 percent to $1.2822. Other movers included the GBP/USD which rose 0.41 percent, and the AUD/USD, which fell 0.28 percent.
Volatility and Volume
As stocks rose on the day, the VIX fell. The widely watched barometer of market fear lost 3.57 percent to 12.68.
Volume was very light heading into a holiday weekend. Only around 78 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) shares traded hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 128 million.
Shares of Deckers Outdoor (NASDAQ:DECK) jumped 6 percent on Thursday after an analyst at Jefferies raised his price target on the stock from $65 to $100.
Texas Industries (NYSE:TXI) lost better than 4 percent on the day after the company released its Q3 financial results after the closing bell on Thursday.
Shares of Finish Line (NASDAQ:FINL) jumped around 7 percent during the session after the company announced better than expected Q4 results.
Landec (NASDAQ:LNDC) moved sharply higher for the second day in a row. The stock finished up better than 6 percent on the day. The catalyst for the activity in the name was an earnings report released on March 26.
Retailer Five Below (NASDAQ:FIVE) lost around 3 percent on Thursday after the company's fourth-quarter earnings report.
Vanguard Health Systems (NYSE:VHS) fell more than 7 percent. Earlier in the week, the company was notified by the state of Arizona that it was not going to be awarded a Medicaid-care contract for the upcoming year.
SYNNEX Corporation (NYSE:SNX) saw its stock fall more than 9 percent on Thursday after the company's fiscal first-quarter earnings results.
Shares of Himax Technologies (NASDAQ:HIMX) surged more than 18 percent on Thursday after a bullish article about the company appeared on Seeking Alpha.
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