Stocks rallied almost as sharply as they fell on Thursday, as fears of an imminent Western attack on Syria receded after encountering resistance from Europe and the United Nations, while positive economic data brought investor focus back on Wall Street and the upcoming prospect of tapering.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed at 1,638.16 points, 0.2 percent higher, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by 0.11 percent to 14,840.95 points, and the NASDAQ ended the day on the biggest gain, 0.75 percent at 3,620.30 points.
The weekly report from the Department of Labor indicated that the number of Americans filing jobless claims fell once again to 331,000, just shy of the estimated 320,000, and 6,000 less than last week’s upwardly revised 337,000. Meanwhile, the Department of Commerce revised its assessment of GDP growth in the second quarter upwards, showing that the economy expanded nearly a full percentage point more, at 2.5 percent, than the previous figure of 1.7 percent.
Residential Construction stocks ended near the top of the S&P 500, with significant gains for PulteGroup ($PHM), Lenar Corp. (LEN) , and DR Horton (DHR) . Tech shares were trading on heavy volume, with Microsoft (MSFT) ending the day higher, and Verizon Communications advancing significantly on news that it would likely be buying out Vodafone Group’s (VOD) stake in the highly profitable Verizon Wireless venture.
On the Dow, Boeing (BA) and UnitedHealth Group (UNH) ended the day higher, while basic materials companies Chevron (CVX) , Exxon Mobil (XOM) , and aluminum manufacturer Alcoa ($AA) wound up on the bottom-end of the index.
Vodafone also led the way up on the NASDAQ, ending the day some 8 percent higher on heavy trading, while other techs like Facebook (FB) , Groupon (GRPN) and Yahoo! (YHOO) all closed the day on a positive note.