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Overnight Markets: Wall Street rises after GDP data

Overnight Markets: Wall Street rises after GDP data

Wall Street gained on Thursday, with the S&P 500 index climbing to its third record closing high in four sessions, as traders shrugged off data that showed the economy contracted in the first quarter and bet on improvement in the second quarter.

The Dow Jones industrial average increased 66 points or 0.39%, to 16,699. The Nasdaq Composite added 23 points or 0.54%, to 4,248. The S&P 500 gained 10 points or 0.54%, to 1,920 - a record close and a lifetime intraday high.

Data showed that new claims for unemployment benefits declined more than expected last week, pointing to a strengthening labour market and giving investors a reason to purchase US stocks.

Separately, figures from the Commerce Department showed that gross domestic product shrank for the first time in three years in the first quarter, although signs indicated it has rebounded.

In company news, Hillshire Brands (HSH.N) surged 17.7% after Tyson Foods (TSN.N) offered to top a bid from Pilgrim's Pride (PPC.O). Tyson shares rose 6.1%. Pilgrim's Pride fell 1.1%.

Apple (AAPL.O) shares gained 1.8% after hitting $636.87, its highest level in a year and a half, a day after the iPhone maker announced it will buy music streaming and audio equipment company Beats for about $3 billion.

Biogen Idec surged 3.6% after the biotechnology company was raised to overweight from neutral by JP Morgan analysts. Abercrombie & Fitch jumped 5.8%.

Palo Alto Networks Inc. climbed 5.3% after the company posted third-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 11 cents, compared with the 10 cents analysts had estimated. It reported revenue of $150.7 million, topping the $146.2-million analyst forecast.

Twitter Inc. gained 0.7% as Cantor Fitzgerald LP raised the stock to a buy from hold.

In Asia, shares oscillated between gains and losses on Friday as raw-material producers declined and information-technology companies rose.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.1% to 142 as of 10:47 a.m. in Hong Kong. Hang Seng Index was little changed, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.4%. Taiwan’s Taiex index lost 0.1%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.2% and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.1%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index dropped 0.3%.

South Korea’s Kospi index declined 0.2%. Japan’s Topix index dropped 0.2%, erasing gains of as much as 0.4%.

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