* Ford up after results; AT&T, Dow Chemical lower
* PulteGroup, other homebuilder stocks gain
* Federal Reserve seen keeping stimulus for several months
* Indexes up: Dow 0.6 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.6 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Oct 24 U.S. stocks resumed their
upward move on Thursday as economic data underscored views U.S.
monetary stimulus will be in place for the foreseeable future
and as earnings offered some upbeat news.
Shares of PulteGroup Inc jumped after the
homebuilder reported results and said a slowdown in new home
orders would be "short-lived." Its shares jumped 7 percent to
$17.85 and were the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P 500,
while shares of D.R. Horton Inc rose 2.1 percent to
$19.87 and Beazer Homes Inc added 1.5 percent to $19.41.
Economic data showed initial claims for state unemployment
benefits fell less than expected in the latest week, though
analysts noted a backlog of applications in California. On
Tuesday, data showed that employers added fewer jobs than
expected in September.
The day's data also included a preliminary look at Markit's
October Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, which grew at
its slowest pace in a year while factory output contracted for
the first time since late 2009.
Expectations the Fed will continue its stimulus have helped
stocks all year, with the S&P 500 index up 22.8 percent so far
The S&P 500 declined on Wednesday, ending its four-session
streak of record high finishes. Last week's legislation to avoid
a debt default and end a partial government shutdown gave way to
a relief rally and speculation that the Federal Reserve will
delay scaling back its stimulus for several months.
"You've got this underlying liquidity surge that's propping
prices up, and earnings season hasn't been poor," said Bucky
Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 95.88 points,
or 0.62 percent, at 15,509.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 5.69 points, or 0.33 percent, at 1,752.07. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 21.89 points, or 0.56
percent, at 3,928.96.
After the bell, Twitter said it intends to sell
70 million shares priced between $17 and $20 in an initial
public offering that will value the company at as much as $10.9
Ford shares rose 1.4 percent to $17.76 after the
automaker boosted its full-year global earnings and margin
outlook, helped by an improved forecast in Europe and
better-than-expected third quarter results.
Also on the rise were Apple shares, up 1.3 percent
at $531.91, after investor Carl Icahn, in a public letter to
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, called on Apple to commence a
$150 billion share buyback immediately.
Third-quarter earnings overall has had its disappointments,
including some weak outlooks and just 53 percent of companies so
far beating analysts' revenue expectations, below the long-term
average of 61 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
About 68 percent of companies are beating analysts' earnings
expectations, above the 63 percent long-term average.
Among the day's decliners were Dow Chemical Co,
Xerox Corp <XRX.N< and AT&T Inc, which all fell following
results or outlooks.
AT&T, a Dow component, fell 1.8 percent to $34.63 while Dow
Chemical lost 1 percent to $40.62. Xerox slumped 10.4 percent to
$9.61 after a weak outlook.
Shares of Symantec Corp dropped 12.7 percent to
$21.49 after it reported lower-than-expected second-quarter
revenue and forecast current-quarter results below expectations.
Also after the bell, shares of both Amazon.com and
Microsoft jumped after posting results. Amazon.com
gained 7.8 percent to $358.10 after it posted a narrower
quarterly loss and stronger-than-expected sales.
Shares of Microsoft rose 5.6 percent to $35.60 after its
profit rose more than expected.
DuPont shares climbed 3 percent to $63.20 after the
bell. The company said it will spin off its titanium dioxide
unit and related businesses.