Stock indexes rally on EU hope

Wednesday and Thursday's Economic Reports

Wednesday's economic data took a back seat to Europe, but the news was somewhat positive. According to the Commerce Department, durable goods orders showed the largest increase in six months in September. Orders excluding transportation rose 1.7% for the month after a 0.4% slide in August. This was stronger-than-expected. Meanwhile, new home sales were also on the rise, once again after four months of downside. Mortgage applications also rose. The problem, however, was that new home prices fell and builders cut their prices, so the "positive" data does little to assist with a recovery in the housing market.

Early Thursday morning's GDP report showed a growth of 2.5% annually for the third quarter, according to the Commerce Department's first quarterly estimate. The rate stood at 1.3% in the last quarter. Jobless claims last week fell 2,000 to 402,000, which was slightly less than the 400,000 anticipated. Pending home sales numbers are due out at 10:00 a.m. ET.

S&P 500 (Figure 2)

Index Wrap-up

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($DJI) ended the day on Wednesday with a gain of 162.42 points, or 1.39%, and closed at 11,869.04. Out of the Dow's thirty index components, twenty-seven posted a gain. The top percentage performers were Boeing (4.46%), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) (2.79%), and DuPont (DD) (+2.58%). The session's decliners were Microsoft (MSFT) (-0.82%), Cisco Systems (CSCO) (-0.06%), and 3M (MMM) (-0.03%).

The S&P 500 ($SPX) finished the session with a gain of 12.95 points, or 1.05%, and closed at 1,242.00. None of the index's industry groups managed to end the session with a gain. Top percentage performers in the index were Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) (+15.16%), F5 Networks (FFIV) (+14.08%), Express Scripts SRX) (+13.49%), and Medco Health Solutions (MHS) (+11.06%). Devry Inc. (DV) (-16.75%), (AMZN) (-12.66%), and Bemis Inc. (BMS) (-11.05%).

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