Thursday saw the focus begin to shift back to more traditional catalysts such as economic data points, as a last minute deal out of the Senate averted the nation from a debt default, after two weeks of particularly bitter partisan wrangling kept investors and markets holding their breath.
In an interview with Equities.com, Sam Stovall, Chief Equity Strategist for S&P Capital IQ summed up the situation by saying that “The volatility that we would have received from daily economic releases was replaced by the daily uncertainty offered by the disagreements between the Democrats and Republicans in Washington. In a sense, what one took away, the other one replaced.”
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was 0.67 percent higher to end the day at 1,733.15 points, while the NASDAQ advanced 0.62 percent to a finishing tally of 3,863.15, and the Dow dropped an ever so slight 0.01 percent to close at 15,371.65.
With the most recent debacle in the rearview mirror, for at least the time being, the Labor Department released its weekly initial jobless claims report, indicating a decline of 15,000 for the week ending Oct 12 to 358,000. Economists had been expecting that figure to drop to 335,000, but the two-week government shutdown that ended on Thursday morning had caused claims to shoot up to a three and a half-month high. Technical difficulties related to system upgrades in California also helped to increase the number, as the Golden State continues to work through its backlog.
Coal miner Peabody Energy (BTU) ended the day almost 4 percent higher on the S&P 500 after the company’s earnings report showed adjusted EPS beating analyst estimates by $0.09, despite the fact that the company lost money overall during the recently ended period. Newmont Mining (NEM) also ended the day significantly higher as part of a larger rally for gold futures brought gold stocks along with them for the ride.
The Dow ended the day a fraction of a percentage point lower thanks to significant downward pressure from IBM (IBM) , whose shares plummeted in the wake of yesterday’s unhappy earnings report release, and UnitedHealth Group (UNH) . Goldman Sachs (GS) was third from the bottom, extending losses from the previous day’s trading.
The NASDAQ advanced with help from Midwestern regional bank PrivateBancorp (PVTB) , almost 9 percent higher on the day after beating top and bottom lines in its earnings statement. Communications company ParkerVision Inc (PRKR) ended the day more than 60 percent higher after prevailing in a lengthy patent-suit against Qualcomm (QCOM) . Real Goods Solar (RSOL) spiked over 40 percent on heavy volume though the reason for the movement was not immediately clear.