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Overnight Markets: Wall Street advances on Merkel’s comment

Technology stocks rose the most, followed closely by growth-sensitive materials stocks.

 
Overnight Markets: Wall Street advances on Merkel’s comment

U.S. stocks advanced on Thursday, sending the S&P 500 Index to its highest level since early April, after investors took comfort in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's stated commitment to hold together the eurozone.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 85 points, or 0.7%, to 13250, and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index added 10 points, or 0.7%, to 1416. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 31 points, or 1%, to 3062.

Merkel said ECB chief Mario Draghi's vow to do all that is necessary to defend the euro is in line with what European leaders have been saying. The statement was seen as a sign Germany may be drawing closer to backing purchases of sovereign bonds of troubled European nations such as Spain.

In economic data, the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits edged higher last week although the gauge of a longer trend fell close to a four-year low, indicating a slowly healing jobs market. But housing starts unexpectedly fell 1.1% last month.

Technology stocks rose the most, followed closely by growth-sensitive materials stocks. Cisco Systems surged 9.6% after the networking company reported quarterly earnings and revenue that topped analysts' estimates and raised its quarterly dividend by 75% to 14 cents a share. Apple Inc shares hit a new closing high of $636.34.

Facebook Inc declined 6.3% after the expiration of a lockup period, which had prevented sales by some insiders.

Wal-Mart shed 3.1% after the world's largest retailer posted a bigger-than-expected jump in quarterly profit but forecast full-year earnings that could fall short of Wall Street expectations.

Retailer Sears Holdings Corp reported a quarterly loss in line with Wall Street estimates as lower expenses offset weak sales. Shares rose 6.5%.

Dollar Tree fell 1.8% after the discount retailer posted second-quarter earnings and forecast quarterly earnings and sales below analysts' expectations.

In Asia, shares mostly gained on Friday as U.S. housing permits reaching a four-year high helped allay fears about the strength of a global recovery.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.2% to 121 as of 11:19 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average increased 0.6% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.4%. South Korea’s Kospi Index slipped 0.7%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.6% and the Shanghai Composite Index was little changed. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.1%.

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