(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a positive note as upbeat earnings reports especially from technology companies, including International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and EBay Inc. (EBAY), offset a set of tepid economic data.
S&P 500 Index added 0.27 percent to close at 1,376.51. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.27 percent to end at 12,943.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.79 percent to finish at 2,965.90.
On the U.S. economic front, the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits rose more than forecast for the week ended July 14, a government data showed. Jobless claims increased 34,000 to 386,000 last week from a revised 352,000, also coming in higher than economists expectations of 365,000 applications.
Meanwhile, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed existing home sales for June surprisingly fell to 4.37 million from an upwardly revised 4.62 million in the prior month, hitting a eigth-month low. Economists expected sales to increase to 4.65 million. Another data showed manufacturing in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region contracted for a third month, also coming in weaker than forecast.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: IBM, EBAY, MS, QCOM, WAG, JCI, SHW, UNP, MLNX, VZ, SWKS, SCSS
In corporate news, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) rose 3.77 percent after the technology behemoth raised its full-year guidancedue to strong quarterly performance. Its second quarter earnings exceeded Wall Street expectations.
eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) jumped 8.63 percent after the online auction site reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, boosted by strong performance of its PayPal and marketplaces businesses.
Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) dropped 5.29 percent after the financial services giant posted weaker-than-forecast quarterly revenue amid a 35 percent slump in investment banking revenue.
Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) added 4.26 percent after the cell phone chip maker expects a strong first quarter for its semiconductor business. The company reported higher earnings and revenue for the third quarter, though it guided fourth quarter below consensus.
Walgreen Co. (NYSE:WAG) rallied 11.79 percent after the drugstore chain reached a multi-year reimbursement deal with Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ:ESRX), ending a dispute between the two companies.
Johnson Controls (NYSE:JCI) retreated 7.94 percent after the automobile battery provider's third quarter results trailed Wall Street expectations. The company also reduced its earnings forecast for the fourth quarter.
Sherwin-Williams Co. (NYSE:SHW) gained 3.74 percent and Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE:UNP) added 3.52 percent, following their quarterly reports.
Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ:MLNX) rallied 41.46 percent after the fabless semiconductor company delivered stronger-than-forecast earnings and revenue for the second quarter.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) lost 2.94 percent after the company's quarterly revenue fell shy of consensus.
Skyworks Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ:SWKS) jumped 9.50 percent after the semiconductor company posted quarterly earnings and revenue that came in above market expectations.
Select Comfort Corp. (NASDAQ:SCSS) soared 26.78 percent after the Minnesota-based bed retailer posted upbeat quarterly earnings on double-digit sales growth and improvement in margins.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE:AMD) are reporting their quarterly results after the markets close.
European markets ended higher, with Germany's DAX up 1.11 percent to close at 6,758.39. France's CAC40 gained 0.87 percent to finish at 3,263.64. U.K.'s FTSE 100 added 0.50 percent to end at 5,714.19.
Asian markets closed higher, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index adding 0.73 percent to finish at 2,184.84. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.79 percent to end at 8,795.55. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rallied 1.66 percent to end at 19,559.05. India's BSE Sensex finished at 17,278.85, up 0.55 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Crude oil futures rose 2.82 percent to $92.40 per barrel and natural gas futures added 1.55 percent to $3.019 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures gained 0.64 percent to $1,580.9 per ounce and silver futures advanced 0.46 percent to $27.220 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro shed 0.03 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2279. The British pound rose 0.45 percent against the greenback to 1.5724, while the dollar dropped 0.25 percent against the Japanese yen to 78.6000.