Economic data provides strength for equities with Dow seeing second straight triple digit gains. The Dow (DJI) added 106.63 points, or 0.95 percent, to close the session at 11,362.41. The S&P 500 (SPX) tacked on 15.46 points, or 1.28 percent, to 1,221.53 with the Nasdaq (COMP) rising 29.92 points, or 1.17 percent, to 2,579.35. Volume was moderate on the session with the NYSE trading 1.12 billion shares and the Naz turning over 2.04 billion shares. Market breadth was positive by a 21-to-9 and 17-to-10 margin on the Big Board and Naz respectively.
Same-store sales results for November provided optimism Thursday with 18 of 24 chain stores beating expectations. The Retail HOLDRs (RTH) started slow, but ultimately rose nearly one percent. Ambercrombie (ANF) and Zumiez (ZUMZ) were two of big winners, announcing same-store sales growth of more than 20 percent. This sent shares of ANF up 11.06 percent to $56.02m but traders took the opportunity to sell ZUMZ shares, which fell 4.56 percent to $30.13. Nonetheless, ZUMZ is still up more than 100 percent from its August lows.
The housing sector got good news on two fronts Thursday with pending home sales rising and Toll Brothers (TOL) reporting better than expected earnings. Pending home sales in October rose 10.4 percent, putting the index up more than 18 percent from its post stimulus low in June. This points to strength in existing home sales in the months to come. TOL shares gained 2.22 percent to $18.87 after the luxury home builder reported a gain of 30-cents a share, easily surpassing expectations for a loss of 8-cents. The Homebuilders SPDR (XHB) gained 2.78 percent on the session to $16.65.
Positive economic news this week has lifted oil prices with a barrel priced above $88 Thursday. This has been good news for oil related stocks with the Oil Services HOLDRs (OIH) up 1.54 percent to $136.18. This is a new 52-week high for OIH shares, but is bad news for commuters, whom are sure to be paying more for fuel at the pumps in the weeks to come.
After a busy week of economic data, the granddaddy report will be released in the morning Friday. It will be interesting to see if traders sell the news or if recent gains can hold for stocks. Estimates are for nonfarm payrolls to rise by about 168,000 in November, following a gain of 151,000 in October.
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