U.S. stocks started Thursday's session modestly higher, with disappointing data on July retail sales and the jobs market hampering enthusiasm over results from Walmart. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 12 points to 9,374. Walmart is up 2%. The S&P 500 Index added 3 points to 1,009. The Nasdaq Composite added 7 points to 2,006. Besides Walmart, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Urban Outfitter, and Briggs Stratton are all higher following earnings. Home Depot and Lowes are higher on upgrades. Kohls also reported better than expected earnings, but the stock is lower by 2%. The financials are having a strong rebound thanks to news the popular hedge fund manager Paulson loaded up on financials like Bank of America in the second quarter. Bank of America is up 5% this morning. Regions Financial is up 7% on the same news. Home builder, D.R. Horton is lower by 3% on a downgrade. Within the first hour, the averages sold off, then rebounded. The techs are performing well. Research in Motion, Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, and Apple are higher on upgrades. Palm and Nokia were downgraded, yet both are higher. The commodities keep pushing higher. A number of fertilizers were upgraded. An analyst raised his estimates on copper prices helping lift Freeport McMoRan by 4%. One sector not performing well is solar. LDK Solar is down 17% after missing estimates. Through the morning and into the afternoon, the averages remained in the green. The averages received a lift at one o'clock on a good 30 year Treasury auction. The Dow rose 40 points back above 9400. The Nasdaq rose 13 points. The rally following the Treasury auction didn't last. Entering the last hour, the Dow was back in negative territory. In the last hour the bulls kept the averages out of the red. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 36 points at 9,397. The S&P 500 Index advanced 6 points to 1,012, its highest finish since early October. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 10 points to stand at 2,009.
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