(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended in green, as remarks from German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the country's commitment to maintain the euro, jump in July building permits in the U.S. and upbeat quarterly results from Cisco Systems (CSCO) weighed on the sentiment.
S&P 500 Index added 0.71 percent to finish at 1,415.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.65 percent to end at 13,250.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.04 percent to close at 3,062.39.
Merkel said Germany is committed to do everything it can to maintain the common currency. Last month, the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank could do whatever is needed to protect the beleaguered euro. Merkel supported Draghi's remarks on Thursday, saying the ECB is in line with what euro-area policy makers have been saying.
On the domestic economic front, housing starts in the United States fell 1.1 percent to 746,000 for July, while permits for future building construction rose 6.8 percent - a four-year high - to 812,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Economists expected housing starts at 757,000 and building permits of 770,000.
The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits rose slightly for the week ended August 11, a government data showed. Jobless claims increased 2,000 to 366,000 last week from a revised 364,000 in the previous week, also coming in above economists expectations of 365,000 applications.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: WMT, CSCO, DLTR, SHLD, A, NTAP, FB, CSTR, EA, IDIX, NTES, PLCE
In corporate news, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) shed 3.09 percent after the world's largest retail chain store operator posted quarterly sales that fell short of market expectations.
Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) surged 9.63 percent after the networking company posted a jump in quarterly earnings on strong sales growth and lower expenses. Fourth-quarter results exceeded Wall Street expectations and the company boosted its dividend by 75 percent to 14 cents.
Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ:DLTR) lost 1.78 percent after the operator of discount variety stores forecast third-quarter earnings and revenue below market expectations.
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:A) tumbled 8.23 percent after the electronic measurement services company posted weak third-quarter results and issued a downbeat forecast for the fourth quarter amid softness in orders.
Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) added 5.50 percent. The developer of video gaming software is exploring a sale and has been approached by private-equity firms KKR and Providence Equity Partners, the New York Post reported, citing sources.
NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ:NTAP) gained 3.79 percent after the Sunnyvale, California-based data storage company posted first-quarter earnings that beat market expectations. The company also guided earnings and revenue for the second quarter.
Sears Holdings Corp.(NASDAQ:SHLD) added 6.52 percent after the retailer reported a narrower quarterly loss due to lower selling and administrative expenses as well as an improvement in gross margin rate.
Coinstar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSTR) surged 7.59 percent. The New York Post reported that the operator of movie-rental-kiosks Redbox has been exploring a potential sale of itself.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) dropped 6.23 percent as lockup period that prevented some insider sales expired today.
Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:PLCE) advanced 8.40 percent after the Secaucus, New Jersey-based company reported a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss amid sales growth and forecast margin expansion for the full year.
NetEase Inc. (NASDAQ:NTES) tumbled 14.81 percent after the Chinese Internet technology company posted second-quarter results that missed analysts' expectations.
Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:IDIX) sank 29.72 percent after the U.S. health regulators placed a partial hold on further trials of its experimental hepatitis C treatment, IDX184, over safety concerns.
European markets closed higher, with Germany's DAX adding 0.71 percent to close at 6,996.29. France's CAC40 advanced 0.91 percent to finish at 3,480.49. U.K.'s FTSE 100 inched up 0.03 percent to end at 5,834.51.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index shed 0.32 percent to finish at 2,112.20. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 1.88 percent to end at 9,092.76. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.45 percent to end at 19,962.95. India's BSE Sensex finished at 17,657.21, down 0.40 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Crude oil futures rose 0.88 percent to $95.160 per barrel while natural gas futures dropped 1.24 percent to $2.714 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures added 0.67 percent to $1,617.4 per ounce and silver futures gained 1.39 percent to $28.285 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.54 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2356. The British pound added 0.33 percent against the greenback to 1.5735, and the dollar gained 0.41 percent against the Japanese yen to 79.3100.