Wall Street Drifts Higher Amid Mixed Data

By MarketsFOXBusiness

FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here

U.S. equity markets climbed into the green on Thursday as traders digested mixed economic data.

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Today's Markets

As of 3:17 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 49.8 points, or 0.3%, to 16682, the S&P 500 advanced 8.6 points, or 0.45%, to 1918 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 18.7 points, or 0.44%, to 4244.

Equities have wavered around record highs in somewhat quiet action in recent sessions. The flow of economic data is set to pick up on Thursday, however.

The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy shrunk at an annual rate of 1% in the first quarter, more than the 0.5% contraction economists were expecting. The number was revised down from a previous reading that showed a slight expansion for the world’s biggest economy. The decline in the first three months of the year is the first negative reading since the first quarter of 2011 when it fell 1.3%.

Economists have broadly discounted this number already since the first three months of the year were adversely affected by unusually harsh winter weather. The rate of expansion is expected to pick up to around 3% by the second quarter.

"The key in the report is the growing divergence between S&P earnings and GDP adjusted profits,"

"GDP profits are now down over 12% over the past two quarters while S&P earnings are up sharply on share buy backs and increased margins."noted Mizuho Securities USA chief economist Steven Ricchiuto.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell to 300,000 last week from an upwardly revised 327,000 the week prior. Wall Street expected claims to fall to 318,000 from an initially reported 326,000.

Finally, the National Association of Realtors reported signed contracts to buy previously-owned homes rose 0.4% in April, below analysts’ forecasts for a 1% increase. The gauge was off 9.2% from the same period the year prior.

In corporate news, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) said it would buy music streaming and hardware company Beats Music in a deal valued at up to $3 billion. Dish (NASDAQ:DISH) said it will start allowing companies to pay bills using controversial crypto-currency bitcoin. Cantor Fitzgerald upgraded Twitter (NASDAQ:TWTR) to "buy" from "hold" and maintained its $40 a share price target.

Elsewhere, U.S. stock-index futures rose 4 cents, or 0.04%, to $102.75 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.31% to $3.015 a gallon. Gold dipped $6.20, or 0.49%, to $1,254 a troy ounce.

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