Friday November 27th, 2015 1:24AM

Stocks post mild gains following economic data

By The Associated Press
NEW YORK - Positive news on the U.S. economy outweighed worries about Syria Thursday, sending the stock market higher for a second straight day.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 16.44 points, or 0.1 percent, to 14,840.95, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,638.17. The Nasdaq composite posted a bigger gain, rising 27 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,620.30.

The Dow has gained 64 points over the past two days, not nearly enough to make up for its 170-point loss Tuesday as tensions over Syria rattled markets.

Verizon Communications was the biggest gainer among the blue chips after Britain's Vodafone confirmed it was in talks with Verizon to sell its 45 percent stake their joint venture, Verizon Wireless.

Verizon rose $1.26, or 2.7 percent, to $47.82. The U.S.-listed shares of Vodafone rose $2.39, or 8.1 percent, to $31.80.

While many fund managers said they're not looking to jump back into the market just yet, some individual companies are looking attractive again.

"If you're a long-term investor, it's an opportunity," said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co., which has $1.9 billion under management. He noted a new investment, the retail chain PetSmart, as an example.

Wayne Wilbanks, chief investment officer at the asset management firm Wilbanks, Smith & Thomas, said the market might have fallen too quickly. He also cautioned that the gains from the last two days may not last.

"Be very careful," Wilbanks said. "You haven't missed out on much if you've sat on the sidelines since May. I'm not putting a lot of money to work here."

Traders had two good economic reports to parse through Thursday. The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate from April through June, much faster than previously estimated, the government said. Also, the Labor Department said the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits last week fell to 331,000, the fewest in five years.

While lower unemployment claims and an upward revision on GDP are both positive signs, most of Wall Street's attention is focused on next week, when the August jobs report will be released. The Federal Reserve is expected to decide the fate of its massive bond-buying program in mid-September, and the jobs survey will be the last bit of significant economic data the Fed will have to consider before making its decision.

Traders also continue to watch Syria, where a U.S.-led attack could happen, although such a strike seems less imminent than earlier in the week. Oil fell to below $109 a barrel Thursday.

"The general feeling is that Syrian tensions have eased a bit," said Alec Young, global equity strategist with S&P Capital IQ.

The price of crude oil fell $1.30, or 1.2 percent, to $108.80 a barrel. Oil had climbed as high as $112 earlier this week.

Energy-related stocks fell. Exxon Mobil slipped 2 percent and Chevron fell 1 percent.

Investors worry that a limited strike could drag the U.S. and its allies into that nation's civil war, or worse, set off a regional conflict in an area where so much of the world's oil is located.

Beyond the news about Syria, it has been a mostly quiet week for stocks. Traders are winding down during the last week of summer and heading out for the Labor Day holiday this weekend.

Trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange thin: 2.5 billion shares compared with a recent average of 3.4 billion shares.

Wilbanks said he doesn't expect the market to move substantially higher, citing the mediocre second-quarter earnings that U.S. companies just finished reporting.

"We're going to need to see robust corporate profit growth to move the market higher," he said.

In other corporate news, teen clothing store operator Guess jumped $3.51, or 13 percent, to $30.82 after the company reported second-quarter profit and revenue late Wednesday that blew past the expectations of Wall Street analysts. The retailer also raised its profit forecast for the year.

Campbell Soup fell $1.38, or 3 percent, to $43.33 after posting a loss for its fiscal fourth quarter. The company's results were dragged down by a charge related to the potential sale of a European business. While the results topped Wall Street's estimates, revenue missed expectations.
  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Business News
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 1 year ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
White House undergoes Thanksgiving Day lockdown after man draped in American flag jumps fence
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man draped in an American flag climbed over the fence at the White House on Thursday, prompting a lockdown as the first family celebrated Thanksgiving.The man was immediately appre...
10:11PM ( 3 hours ago )
Obama grants reprieve to turkeys 'Honest' and 'Abe' during White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation's most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and...
9:18PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 6 days ago )
World leaders vow vigorous response to Paris terror spree, but little indication of next steps
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — World leaders vowed a vigorous response to the Islamic State group's terror spree in Paris as they opened a two-day meeting in Turkey on Sunday, with President Barack Obama call...
2:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Rash of E. coli cases in Pacific Northwest highlights problem of foodborne illnesses
SEATTLE (AP) — As Chipotle prepares to reopen its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest this week after an E. coli outbreak that sickened about 45 people, health experts say foodborne illnesses are mor...
1:40AM ( 2 weeks ago )