Positive Data Gives Wall Street a Jolt

By MarketsFOXBusiness

FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here

Stocks bounced back from Wednesday’s sharp selloff as the latest reading on retail sales brightened the mood on Wall Street. However, the market lost momentum after the odds of a partial government shutdown appeared to rise.

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Today’s Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 63.2 points, or 0.4%, to 17596. The S&P 500 rose 9.2 points, or 0.5%, to 2035. The Nasdaq was up 24.1 points, or 0.5%, to 4708.

U.S. equities have stumbled in recent sessions, largely due to global economic concerns and an accelerated decline in oil prices. Energy stocks have been hit hard by the oil slump, and the S&P lost 2.4% over the first three sessions this week. That reflects the index’s worst performance in two months.

On Thursday, traders were inspired by retail sales that exceeded expectations. According to the Commerce Department, retail sales grew 0.6% in November when excluding autos, gasoline, food services and building materials. Wall Street was looking for a 0.4% increase.

The report appeared to ease worries over the holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation, a trade group, said consumer spending over the Thanksgiving weekend slipped 11% year-over-year.

Analysts say cheaper gas prices across America are providing support for consumer spending. The national average for a gallon of regular gas was $2.62 a gallon as of Thursday morning, down 30 cents versus last month and 63 cents year-over-year.

Gas prices have even dipped below $2 a gallon in some areas amid the rapid retreat in global oil prices.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil, which fell 5% Wednesday, lost another 99 cents to settle at $59.95 a barrel, marking the first time WTI oil has traded under $60 since July 2009. Elsewhere in commodities, Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline fell a fraction of a penny to approximately $1.64 a gallon.

Once oil broke below the $60-a-barrel threshold, energy stocks like Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) pared most of their gains.

Meanwhile, the broader market pulled back after word from Capitol Hill that a House bill to keep the federal government funded may be short on votes.

Another economic report gave Wall Street some optimism. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims shrank by 3,000 to an adjusted 294,000 last week.

In corporate news, online loan marketplace LendingClub (NYSE:LC) surged as much as 67% in its trading debut, giving the company a market value of more than $9 billion.

Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) rallied 8.7% on news that activist hedge fund Starboard Value amassed a 6% stake in the office supply chain. Starboard also raised its ownership stake in Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) to 10%, igniting a 12% gain in the company’s shares.