Seven thousand was all it took. Claims for unemployment were down 7,000, and that seemed enough to give investors an excuse to indulge in a bit of a buying spree. Along with the jobs claims, several companies reported strong earnings and one, in particular, gave investors hope that business spending isn't headed for a steep decline.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 3.94 percent, or 422.84 points, to 11,142.79; the Nasdaq was up 4.69 percent, or 111.63 points, to 2,492.68; the Standard & Poor's 500 was up 4.63 percent, or 51.87 points, to 1, 172.63; the AMEX composite was up 3.47 percent, or 74.93 points, to 2,236.68; and the NYSE composite was up 4.60 percent, or 319.34 points, to 7,257.57.
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:CSCO) gave the market a boost today after reporting better than expected fiscal Q4 earnings and revenue, despite a 36 percent drop in quarterly profits. Shares of the bellwether tech stock were up 15.95 percent, or $2.19, to $15.92.
Publishing giant News Corp. (Nasdaq:NWSA) proved there's still life in old media. The company beat EPS estimates for the quarter, and shares closed up 18.09 percent, or $2.48, to $16.19.
Retailer Kohl's Corp. (NYSE:KSS) beat EPS estimates. It closed up 7.25 percent, or $3.21, to $47.50.
Up-scale retailer Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWN) reported after the market closed today that it beat EPS estimates. In after-hours trading, shares are up around 3 percent. It closed the regular trading day up 5.46 percent, or $2.19, to $42.33.
Commodities and Currency
Oil was up 3.10 percent, or $2.57, to $85.46 per barrel. Gold lost a bit of its record-setting momentum, closing down 1.64 percent, or $29.30, to $1,752.80 per ounce.
The euro gained 0.0060 on the U.S. dollar to 1.4223. The dollar gained 0.0650 on the Japanese yen to 76.8300. The British pound gained 0.0095 on the dollar to 1.6225.
Europe celebrated with the U.S. while Asian markets mostly were down today.
Britain's FTSE gained 3.22 percent, or 161.08 points, to 5,168.24; Germany's DAX was up 3.28 percent, or 184.24 points, to 5,797.66; and France's CAC 40 was up 2.89 percent, or 86.67 points, to 3,089.66.
Japan's Nikkei was down 0.63 percent, or 56.80 points, to 8,981.94; Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.95 percent, or 188.53 points, to 19,595.14; and Singapore's Straits Times was down 0.88 percent, or 24.87 points, to 2,796.22. China's Shanghai Composite was up 1.27 percent, or 32.33 points, to 2,581.51.
Boosted by the above-mentioned Cisco, the networking and communications device posted a 14.10 percent increase to claim best-performing sector of the day honors. Along with Cisco, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE:JNPR) was up 6.82 percent, or $1.41, to $22.08. Shares were boosted by the announcement of a deal with AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T). AT&T was up 2.01 percent, or $0.56, to $28.44.
The gold sector was down 0.41 percent and was the day's worst-performing sector. Standard Gold Inc. (OTCBB:SDGR.OB) was down 10.89 percent, or $0.11, to $0.90. Canadian-traded Reservoir Capital Corp. (TSXV:REO.V) was down 5.88 percent, or $0.07, to $1.12.
Best and Worst
A123 Systems Inc (Nasdaq:AONE) announced a deal for advanced battery packs with General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM). A123 shares were up 45.11 percent, or $1.43, to $4.60. GM shares were up 7.90 percent, or $1.89, to $25.81.
The biggest percentage decliner was beverage carbonation system vendor SodaStream International Ltd. (Nasdaq:SODA). Shares were down 33.79 percent, or $23.25, to $45.56 after the company reported solid quarterly results, but a disappointing outlook.