U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday, with investors heartened by news of a drop in jobless claims and reassuring comments from European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 80 points to 10,098, led by a 3% gain in shares of General Electric and a 2% rise in shares of American Express. The S&P 500 index rose 9 points, or 1%, to 1,070, led by the industrials sector, up 1.7%, and the energy sector, up 1.3%. The Nasdaq Composite rose 20 points, or 1%, to 2,180. The retail sales came in better than expected this morning, but a number of retailers are lower. Gap is down 7% and American Eagle is down 4% after less than expected same store sales. Ross Stores and TJX are down 4% even though both raised guidance for the year. Kohls is down 4% after missing estimates. Gymboree is lower even though their forecast was better than expected. Nordstrom is modestly higher on strong sales. JCPenney is up 6% and Abercrombie & Fitch is up 8% thanks to strong retail sales. The financials are modestly higher. The diamond of the day goes to Sun Bancorp up 38% after billionaire Wilbur Ross agreed to buy a 25% stake. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley had their numbers cut, but both stocks are modestly higher. In the commodity space, Freeport McMoRan is higher even though one analyst cut their numbers. After the first half an hour the rally had cut it's gains in half, but rebounded after the first hour. The techs like IBM, Google, and Apple are performing well. Research in Motion is one of the few techs trading lower. Through the morning the averages sold off once again. In the early afternoon the averages fell into the red only to rebound once again. In the last hour the averages moved back into the green, accelerating into the close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 120 points, or 1.2%, to end at 10,138, led by a 3% rise in shares of Du Pont and a 2.5% gain in shares of McDonald's Corp. The S&P 500 index gained 9 points to 1,070, lifted by a 1.3% advance in both the industrials and energy sectors. The Nasdaq Composite rose 15 points to 2,175.
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