* JPMorgan shares fall on mortgage-backed securities probe
* Jobless claims rise less than expected in latest week
* Fisher reiterates Fed stance on bond-purchase plan
* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P 500 up 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.4 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Aug 8 U.S. stocks advanced on
Thursday, snapping a three-day losing skid as a rally in
Microsoft helped lift the technology sector.
The three major U.S. stock indexes shook off early losses as
Microsoft shares climbed. The stock closed up 2.6
percent at $32.89 in heavy volume. The S&P information
technology sector index rose 0.4 percent.
Shares of Tesla Motors Inc jumped 14.3 percent to
$153.48 a day after the electric car maker posted an unexpected
quarterly profit. The stock has been a major momentum favorite
this year, up almost 350 percent in 2013.
"There definitely seems to be some big runners. Microsoft
was up quite a bit," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment
officer of OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.
"It could be people decided there are some bargains out
there. It's kind of odd that we had a fair amount of this
tapering talk the past few days. So I'm surprised in that regard
that people have decided to step back in."
Stocks had inched lower much of this week, pulling back from
last week's record levels, on concerns that the Federal Reserve
will start to reduce its stimulus efforts this year as the
economy recovers. Gains in equities have been closely linked to
the Fed's stimulative policy, and many investors are worried
that economic growth may stall without the Fed's intervention.
In the latest comments from a Fed official, Richard Fisher,
president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, reiterated that
the central bank will probably begin cutting back on its massive
bond-buying stimulus next month, as long as economic data
continues to improve.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 27.65 points or
0.18 percent, to end at 15,498.32. The S&P 500 gained
6.57 points or 0.39 percent, to 1,697.48. The Nasdaq Composite
Index added 15.115 points or 0.41 percent, to 3,669.124.
Volume was once again light, with about 5.81 billion shares
traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the NYSE MKT and the
Nasdaq, below the daily average of 6.35 billion. Volume has yet
to climb above 6 billion for any trading day this week.
Groupon Inc shares soared 21.6 percent to $10.60.
Late Wednesday, the online coupon company reported revenue that
exceeded expectations and named its co-founder as chief
JPMorgan Chase & Co was among the Dow's worst
performers. The stock fell 0.9 percent to $54.83. JPMorgan
Chase, which is the biggest U.S. bank ranked by assets, faces a
criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice over sales of
Data showed U.S. weekly jobless claims rose less than
expected to 333,000 in the latest week, while the four-week
average fell to 335,500, its lowest level since before the
recession in 2007 through 2009.
Orbitz Worldwide Inc, an online travel agency,
reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings as it sold more
hotel and vacation packages, and forecast full-year revenue
above analysts' estimates. Orbitz shares surged
36.7 percent to $12.62.
After the closing bell, Priceline.com shares rose
5.1 percent to $981.46 after the online travel agency said
quarterly profit rose on improved hotel and car-rental
reservations. The stock had ended regular trading
at $933.75, up 0.7 percent ahead of its earnings.
Of 442 companies in the S&P 500 that had reported earnings
through Thursday morning, Thomson Reuters data showed that 67
percent topped analysts' expectations, matching the beat rate
over the past four quarters. In terms of revenue, 53.6 percent
exceeded estimates, more than the 48 percent rate over the past
four quarters, but below the 61 percent average since 2002.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
ratio of 2 to 1, while on the Nasdaq, three stocks rose for
every two that fell.