Major market indices reverse early weakness Thursday to close with strong gains. The Dow (^DJI) added 207.53 points to close at 12,650.36. The S&P 500 (^SPX) gained 22.74 points, closing at 1,378.55. The NASDAQ (^IXIC) tacked on 40.86 points to close at 2,389.86. Volume was strong on the session with 2.19 billion shares traded on the NYSE and 2.87 billion shares exchanged on the Naz. Market breadth was positive by a 24-to-8 and 20-to-10 margin on the Big Board and Naz respectively.
Despite solid gains today, the major market indices suffered significant losses in January. In fact, the Dow, SPX and Naz were down 4.63 percent, 6.12 percent and 9.86 percent respectively the first month of 2008. However, stocks did come well off their lows that occurred the day of the emergency Fed funds rate cut early last week.
On Thursday, traders got plenty of data on the economic front, as well as a number of earnings reports. One of the focuses Thursday was the bond insurers, most notably MBIA (MBI). The company reported that it lost $2.3 billion in the fourth-quarter, but that it did get a private equity investment of $500 million from Warburg Pincus. The stock really saw gains today after its CEO stated that its triple-A rating was not in jeopardy and that it had plenty of reserves to weather the storm. MBI shares rallied 11.0 percent on the session with competitor Ambak (ABK) up 7.3 percent.
Shares of Amazon.com (AMZN) ended with solid gains after a volatile session. The online retailer reported that fourth-quarter profits more than doubled, but it also provided a below average forecast. Nonetheless, the stock gained 4.7 percent to close at $77.70. This puts the stock right in the middle of its 52-week range.
Economic news was heavy Thursday with data continuing to pour out on Friday. Jobless claims soared for the week ending Jan. 26 to 375,000, a gain of 69,000. This was unexpected with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday part of the reason for volatility. Nonetheless, it has raised concerns about how strong the employment data will be for the month. On Wednesday, the ADP report showed a solid gain of 135,000 private payrolls.
Besides the always important employment report tomorrow, traders will get data on manufacturing and consumer sentiment. Traders will also be focused on earnings with Google (GOOG) releasing disappointing results after the bell Thursday. This news has pushed the Internet giant down more than $40 in after-hours trading.
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