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Wall St inches higher, helped by U.S. economic data
November 20, 2014 / 2:37 PM / 3 years ago

Wall St inches higher, helped by U.S. economic data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher at midday on Thursday as data showed further strength in the U.S. economy.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York November 18, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region grew at its fastest pace in two decades, U.S. home resales jumped to their highest in more than a year in October, and a gauge of future U.S. economic activity gained.

U.S. consumer prices were unexpectedly flat in October though underlying inflation pressures were rising, while new claims for unemployment benefits fell less than expected last week but showed the labor market was improving.

The upbeat numbers were the main reason for the market to turn higher, analysts said.

Growth in the economy and earnings should bode well for stocks heading into next year, said Margaret Patel, senior portfolio manager at Wells Capital Management.

“Next year will be a reasonable to maybe a surprisingly good year,” she said. There’s “no reason in the world why we can’t see P/Es expand.” Patel, who spoke at Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit Thursday, said stocks could rise by a mid single-digit to high-teens percentage next year.

At 12:25 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 10.19 points, or 0.06 percent, to 17,695.92, the S&P 500 gained 3.73 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,052.45 and the Nasdaq Composite added 21.87 points, or 0.47 percent, to 4,697.58.

GoPro shares fell 6.8 percent to $73.70 after a follow-on offering priced at $75 per share, a discount to Wednesday’s close.

Best Buy added 6.8 percent and was the largest percentage gainer on the S&P 500 after reporting a better-than-expected profit as cost-cutting paid off and revenue increased.

Shares of Alibaba added 2.8 percent to $111.87 after founder Jack Ma said the firm will set up an international version of its e-commerce marketplace Taobao.

Among the top Nasdaq decliners was Keurig Green Mountain, down 6.1 percent, a day after it forecast a fiscal first-quarter profit below analysts’ estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,977 to 990, for a 2.00-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,633 issues rose and 989 fell for a 1.65-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 was posting 39 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 43 new highs and 46 new lows.

Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski

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