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US stock futures maintained modest gains premarket. Holding these small gains is good considering data showed a slight rise in weekly jobless claims and a decline in housing starts in July. First-time claims for state unemployment benefits rose in the latest week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The number of initial claims in the week ending Aug. 11 rose 2,000 to 366,000. The consensus forecast of Wall Street economists was for claims to rise to 365,000. N top of the increase in jobless claims, new construction of U.S. houses retreated in July after a strong gain in the previous month. Starts fell 1.1% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000 units. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected a slight increase to an annual rate of 765,000 units. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 25 points to 13,160 and those on the S&P 500 index climbed 3.70 points to 1,407.2. Nasdaq-100 futures added 9 points to 2,747.5. On the open, the indices pulled back quickly, with the Dow Jones down 12 points, the S&P 500 down 0.04 points, and the Nasdaq up 6 points. Just after 10:00am the markets began to rally and did not stop until the close, pushing near the highs of the year. The Dow closed up 85.33 points or 0.65%, the S&P 500 up 9.99 points or 0.71%, and the Nasdaq up 31.46 points or 1.04%. European markets performed well with the major indices closing in positive territory. The FTSE-100 closed up 1.41 points or 0.03%. The CAC 40 was up nearly 1.00% or 31.29 points, and the DAX was traded higher at 49.49 points or 0.71%. Asian Markets were mixed with the Hang Seng down 89.34 points or 0.45%, the Nikkei 225 was bucking the trend up almost 2% or 167.72 points. In corporate news, Blyth Inc. (BTH) climbed up 16.96% to $43.38 after announcing a possible spinoff into a company known as ViSalus. GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (GTAT) was in the green up 13.91% at $6.14 after announcing the company was increasing their backlog. Cisco Systems (CSCO) had a nice pop up 9.63% at $19.02 after a solid earnings report yesterday and an increase in the dividend. Coinstar Inc. (CSTR) was also up today, 7.59% at $51.88 after rumors were spread that the company was in negotiations with a private equity firm to be bought out. On the other side of the positive moves in the aforementioned companies were the companies moving negative. Perry Ellis International Inc. (PERY) crashed today down, 15.58% at $18.80, after the company announced a loss of $2.4 million for the second quarter. Agilent Technologies (A) sunk into the red today, down 8.23% to $37.15. Agilent saw its shares fall after a poor earnings report and lowering its full year outlook. Finally, Perrigo Co. (PRGO) traded lower today down 6.58% at $108.93. Perrigo also tanked after a poor earnings report in which the company missed estimates significantly.
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