Stocks Move Mostly Higher, Nasdaq Sets Record Closing High

Stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday, adding to the gains posted in the two previous sessions. With the upward move on the day, the tech-heavy Nasdaq reached a new record closing high.

The major averages ended the day firmly in positive territory. The Dow rose 59.92 points or 0.3 percent to 21,952.35, the Nasdaq jumped 60.35 points or 1 percent to 6,428.66 and the S&P 500 climbed 14.02 points or 0.6 percent to 2,471.61.

The strength on Wall Street came following the release of a slew of U.S. economic data, including a Commerce Department report showing a bigger than expected increase in personal income.

The Commerce Department said personal income climbed by 0.4 percent in July after coming in unchanged in June. Economists had expected income to rise by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the report said personal spending rose by 0.3 percent in July after edging up by 0.2 percent in the previous month. Spending had been expected to increase by 0.4 percent.

The Labor Department released a separate report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits edged slightly higher in the week ended August 26th.

The report said initial jobless claims inched up to 236,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 235,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 237,000 from the 234,000 originally reported for the previous week.

MNI Indicators also released a report showing continued growth in Chicago-area business activity in the month of August.

The Chicago business barometer came in at 58.9 in August, unchanged from July. A reading above 50 indicates growth. Economists had expected the barometer to edge down to 58.5.

A separate report from the National Association of Realtors showed an unexpected decrease in pending home sales in the month of July.

NAR said its pending home sales index fell by 0.8 percent to 109.1 in July from a downwardly revised 110.0 in June. Economists had expected pending home sales to rise by 0.5 percent.

A pending home sale is one in which a contract was signed but not yet closed. Normally, it takes four to six weeks to close a contracted sale.

Sector News

Biotechnology stocks showed a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index up by 2.6 percent. The jump lifted the index to its best closing level in over two years.

Impax Laboratories (IPXL), Newlink Genetics (NLNK), and Cara Therapeutics (CARA) turned in some of the biotech sector’s best performances.

Significant…

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