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S And P 500 At Four-Month High As Stocks Close Higher
2012-08-16 22:16:47 (211 weeks ago)
Posted By: Intellpuke

Stocks rose again on Thursday, sending the S&P to a four-month closing high.

The markets rose following comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel that appeared to back the European Central Bank's efforts to fight the euro zone crisis, while Cisco Systems jumped after it hiked its dividend.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow closed the day up 85.33 points, or 0.65 percent, to 13,250.11. The broader S&P 500 jumped 9.98 points, or 0.71 percent, to 1,415.51. The tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 31.46 points, or 1.04 percent, to 3,062.39.

"I think the biggest plus today is the fact that people realize that we are now really in an upward trend. We faced resistance but for over a week, we moved higher slowly without a significant pullback. That is what's pulling people in, although volume remains low," said Frank Gretz, market analyst at Wellington Shields & Co in New York.

Cisco Systems rose nearly 10 percent to $19.02 after the company said it would hike its dividend 75 percent after surprisingly strong results late Wednesday. The dividend increase countered a gloomy outlook from Cicso on the debt crisis and recession in Europe.

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Gains were capped as Wal-Mart shed 3 percent to $72.25. The world's largest retailer posted a bigger-than-expected jump in quarterly profit but forecast full-year earnings that could fall short of Wall Street expectations.

Wal-Mart traditionally marks the end of the U.S. earnings season. Thomson Reuters data shows that of the 468 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Thursday morning, 68 percent beat analysts' expectations, about the same rate as over the past four quarters.

Earnings were the bigger driver given the economic data was largely in line with forecasts. The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits edged higher last week although the gauge of a longer trend fell close to a four-year low, indicating a slowly healing jobs market.

Housing starts unexpectedly dropped 1.1 percent last month as the industry continues to have trouble finding its footing despite some recent signs of life in the sector.

Facebook fell to a new low of $19.69 earlier as shares hit the market after the expiration of a lockup period, which had prevented sales by some insiders.

Retailer Sears Holdings Corp reported a quarterly loss in line with Wall Street estimates as lower expenses offset weak sales. Shares rose 6.1 percent to $60.03.

Intellpuke: This article is a compilation of reporting by correspondents with NBC News and various news agencies; you can read it in context here:

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