MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow Hits High; Stocks Shrug Off Disappointing Data
By Anora Mahmudova, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks on Thursday recovered most earlier losses as investors shrugged off disappointing housing, manufacturing and employment reports, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record closing.
The Dow average (DJI) closed at its 46th record of the year, adding 11.11 points, or 0.1% to 16,179.08. It also hit an intraday record of 16,194.72. The S&P 500 index (SPX) briefly ventured into positive territory but closed 1.05 point off its record close level at 1,809.60. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) closed lower, shedding 11.93 points, or 0.3%, to 4,058.13.
Weekly jobless claims rose to their highest level since late March, though the increase was likely due to seasonal ups and downs. Existing-home sales for November slumped 4.3%, a third month of declines, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.9 million, on higher mortgage rates and low inventory. The Philadelphia Fed's December manufacturing index rose to 7, but below the consensus view of 11. Leading indicators index for November rose to 98.3, showing modest expansion in the economy.
The S&P 500 closed at a high on Wednesday as investors took the view that a Fed tapering meant confidence in the economy and welcomed the central bank's commitment to low rates until the unemployment rate declines well below 6.5%, especially if projected inflation remains below the 2% target.
"This positive forward guidance on short-term interest rates appears to have offset any near-term concerns about tapering," Gary Thayer, chief macro strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, wrote in a note.
"This was probably an intentional decision by policymakers to smooth out the market impact of tapering," he added.
In corporate news:
* Facebook trimmed earlier losses and closed 0.9% lower after the social network said it plans a public offering of 70 million Class A shares, with 27 million from Facebook itself and the rest from major shareholders, with co-founder Mark Zuckerberg putting up the majority.
* Oracle rose 5.8% after the tech company's quarterly results beat Wall Street forecasts late Wednesday.
* Darden Restaurants Inc. was down 3.6% after the restaurant chain company missed analysts' expectations. The firm also said it expects to spin off its struggling Red Lobster chain after facing pressure from shareholders.
* ConAgra Foods Inc. jumped 5.3% after reaffirming its full-year outlook and posting a fiscal second-quarter profit and sales gain.
* Rite Aid Corp. shares fell 10% after the company cut its per-share estimate for the fiscal year. It said fiscal third-quarter earnings rose 16%.
* Shares of Target Corp. fell 2.2% after the company was hit by an extensive credit-card breach over the Black Friday shopping weekend.
* Accenture shares climbed 5.1% after the management consulting firm said it earned $1.15 per share in the fiscal first quarter, up from $1.06 in the same quarter a year ago. That earnings growth came from higher revenue and growth in new bookings.
In other markets:
* Gold futures Gold futures marked their lowest settlement in more than three years on Thursday as the Federal Reserve's January tapering plans and a rally in the U.S. dollar sank prices below $1,200 an ounce. March silver was hit even harder Thursday, down 87 cents, or 4.4%, to $19.19 an ounce.
* European markets sailed higher, while Japan stocks soared to seven-month highs.
More must-reads from MarketWatch
Follow our stock market live blog
Brett Arends: What the big money is betting on in 2014
Stock market's blockbuster growth to ease in 2014
Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires
(END) Dow Jones Newswires 12-19-131639ET Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.