Wall Street Rallies, Ends Quarter on the Fence

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

Stocks soared on Thursday amid increased optimism about the state of the economic recovery, allowing the major market averages to close a tumultuous second quarter nearly unchanged.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 153 points, or 1.3%, to 12,414, the S&P 500 gained 13.2 points, or 1%, to 1,321 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 33 points, or 1.2%, to 2,774. The FOX 50 jumped 9 points to 924.

The Nasdaq and the S&P 500, both of which tend to be closely watched by traders, were both down less than 1% for the second quarter -- snapping three-quarter winning streaks.  The Dow, however, managed to eke out a slight gain, and has now been up every quarter since the second quarter in 2010.

Among the top-performing blue chips were Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and American Express (NYSE:AXP), both tacking on more than 10%.  Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HP) both struggled on the quarter, sinking more than 10%.

The Institute of Supply Management's Chicago PMI report jumped to 61.1 in June from 56.6 the prior month, easily topping estimates of a reading of 54.  The regional report comes a day before the more closely watched, and broader, report that is released tomorrow from the ISM.

"Given its geographical proximity to the motor vehicle industry and its later monthly release date relative to the earlier month PMI releases ... the recovery in the Chicago PMI strongly suggests that manufacturing activity got a noticeable boost from improving auto sector conditions in the back half of the month," economists at Deutsche Bank wrote in a research note.

Weekly jobless claims ticked lower to 428,000 last week from 429,00 the prior week.  Wall Street had forecast a reading of 420,000 for the week. The number of individuals making claims for unemployment benefits for the first time has been stuck above the 400,000-mark for several weeks, which has led to concerns over the robustness of the recovery in the jobs market.

Market participants are expected to pay close attention to next week's monthly unemployment report for June, which will provide a more complete snapshot of labor market conditions.

The Federal Reserve will also end its controversial long-term asset purchasing program, QE2, on Thursday, as was expected.

Hopes that Greece will be able avoid defaulting on its debt, which could have dealt a significant blow to world credit markets, has lifted sentiment on Wall Street in recent days.

The Greek Parliament narrowly passed a sweeping austerity package and related implementation plan that European lenders had pushed for to give the country a $17 billion emergency aid package that will enable it to pay the next tranche of debt when it comes due.

Energy markets were modestly higher on Thursday but plunged during the second quarter.

Light, sweet crude rose 65 cents, or 0.69%, to $94.42 a barrel.  However, oil was down 11% for the quarter -- the worst performance since the fourth quarter of 2008.

Wholesale RBOB gasoline was up 2 cents, or 0.73%, to $3.03 a gallon.

A gallon of regular gas at the pump costs $3.54 on average nationwide, down from $3.61 last month, but higher than the $2.76 drivers paid last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

In currencies, the euro climbed 0.6% against the U.S. dollar and the greenback fell 0.2% against a basket of world currencies.

Gold was down $7.60, or 0.5%, to $1,503 a troy ounce.  Silver gained 2 cents, or 0.73%, to $34.83 a troy ounce.

Corporate News

Nasdaq OMX Group (NASDAQ:NDAQ) is mulling a merger-deal with the London Stock Exchange after its bid to acquire NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX) fell through, sources tell FOX Business' Charlie Gasparino.

Ebay (NASDAQ:EBAY) shares jumped after several analysts boosted their ratings on the online auction Web site.

Lloyds (NYSE:LLOY) unveiled plans to slash 15,000 jobs in a bid to save $2.4 billion by 2014.

Samsung asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban imports of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) popular iPod, iPhone and iPad products amid patent infringement allegations.

Foreign Markets

The English FTSE 100 was up 1.5% to 5,946, the French CAC 40 rose 1.5% to 3,982 and the German DAX gained 1.1% to 7,376.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 climbed 0.19% to 9,816 and the Chinese Hang Seng jumped 1.5% to 22,398.