The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


August 29, 2013

Stocks edge higher following economic data

NEW YORK — Stocks moved higher Thursday as investors weighed a pair of positive economic reports against worries about Syria.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 28 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,851 in the first half-hour of trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up three points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,638 and the Nasdaq composite rose 19 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,613.

Dow component Verizon Communications was the biggest gainer in both the Dow and the S&P 500 after Britain’s Vodafone confirmed it’s in talks with Verizon to sell its 45 percent stake their joint venture, Verizon Wireless.

Verizon rose $1.91, or 4.1 percent to $48.46. The U.S.-listed shares of Vodafone rose $2.47, or 8.4 percent, to $31.88 on the news.

A lot of traders’ attention was on economic data that came out before the opening bell. The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate from April through June, much faster than previously estimated, the Commerce Department said. The figure was revised up from 1.7 percent as more U.S. companies exported goods and imports declined.

Also, the Labor Department said the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits last week fell to 331,000, the fewest in five years.

“It does support our belief that August was another month of steady employment growth,” economists with the investment bank RBS wrote in a research report.

While lower unemployment claims and an upward revision on GDP are both positive signs, most of Wall Street’s attention is focused on next week, when the August jobs report will be released. The Federal Reserve is expected to decide the fate of its massive bond-buying program in mid-September, and the August jobs report will be the last bit of heavy economic data the central bank will have to work with before making its decision.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.81 percent from 2.77 percent on Wednesday following the stronger economic reports.

Traders also continue to focus on Syria, where a U.S-led military strike could arrive in the coming days. British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office laid out the legal justifications for a military strike Thursday, while France’s defense minister said the French military was ready to commit forces with the approval of President Francois Hollande.

Investors worry that a limited tactical strike against Syria could drag the U.S. and its allies into Syria’s civil war, or worse, set off a regional conflict in an area where so much of the world’s oil is located.

The price of crude oil fell 74 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $109.40 a barrel in early trading. Oil had gone as high as $112 a barrel earlier this week.

In other corporate news, teen clothing store operator Guess jumped $3.11, or 11 percent, to $30.52 after the company reported second-quarter profit and revenue late Wednesday that blew past market expectations. The retailer also raised its full-year profit forecast.

Campbell Soup fell $1.44, or 3 percent, to $43.25 after posting a loss for its fiscal fourth quarter, stung by a charge related to the potential sale of its European simple meals business. Its earnings topped Wall Street’s estimates but revenue missed expectations.


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A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

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