US STOCKS-Wall St rises after claims data, Disney boost

Thu Feb 6, 2014 11:09am EST

* Twitter slumps after results

* Green Mountain surges on deal with Coca-Cola

* Initial claims decline more than expected

* Disney leads Dow, S&P higher after results

* Indexes up: Dow 1.05 pct, S&P 1.02 pct, Nasdaq 1.25 pct

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Feb 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Thursday after a better-than-expected report on weekly initial jobless claims boosted confidence in the economy and Disney rose after its quarterly results.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, in a boost to the labor market outlook and the broader economy.

Walt Disney Co shares climbed 5.4 percent to $75.61 to lead both the Dow and S&P 500 higher after the media company's quarterly profit topped Wall Street expectations.

"Disney is up strong on good earnings. You've got a number of names bouncing back here," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.

As the U.S. Federal Reserve continues to wind down its stimulus, investors have turned their focus to fundamentals such as corporate earnings and economic data.

However, many participants have reservations whether the recent soft data truly reflects the economy or is the result of a harsh winter. Friday's payrolls report may not provide a clearer indication of the economy's health after last month's disappointing number.

"All eyes are on tomorrow's employment report number, although whatever it is, it's going to be quickly dismissed because of weather. People will say it's either overstated or understated," said Ghriskey.

Twitter Inc shares tumbled 19.6 percent to $53.01 after the social media reported slow user growth, dimming hopes the company could sustain its torrid expansion.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc surged 27.1 percent to $102.80 as the top boost to the Nasdaq 100 index. Coca-Cola Co bought a 10 percent stake for $1.25 billion and said it would help launch Green Mountain's new cold drink machine. Coke shares gained 1.3 percent to $38.11 while home beverage device maker SodaStream International rose 5.7 percent to $37.83.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 162.59 points or 1.05 percent, to 15,602.82, the S&P 500 gained 17.88 points or 1.02 percent, to 1,769.52 and the Nasdaq Composite added 50.147 points or 1.25 percent, to 4,061.699.

Other economic data showed the U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in December as exports fell, which could see the advance fourth-quarter growth estimate trimmed. Nonfarm productivity rose more than expected in the fourth quarter, but weak unit labor costs pointed to subdued wage inflation.

According to Thomson Reuters data, of the 330 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Thursday morning, 68.8 percent have topped Wall Street expectations, above the 63 percent beat rate since 1994 and the 67 percent rate for the past four quarters.

The Nasdaq also received a boost from Akamai Technologies , which soared 18.3 percent to $56.09 after forecasting better-than-expected results for the current quarter.

General Motors shed 0.3 percent to $34.98. The automaker posted weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday as results in North America, Asia and South America disappointed.

Dunkin' Brands Group Inc reported a 23 percent rise in quarterly profit, driven by higher sales at its Dunkin' Donuts coffee and sandwich outlets. The company also boosted its quarterly dividend and announced a new $125 million share buyback plan. Its shares advanced 5.1 percent to $49.70.

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