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Midday Market Update

Stocks Higher After Data

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U.S. Market    
Stocks were higher this morning after upbeat economic data.

Initial jobless claims fell 10,000 to 332,000 last week, below the 350,000 expected by economists.  The less volatile four-week moving average dropped by 2,750 to 346,750. The better-than-expected reading comes after last week’s positive payroll and unemployment rate report.

The producer price index, which measures wholesale prices, rose 0.7% in February from the previous month.  The increase was driven mostly by a 7.2% rise in gas prices. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, prices rose 0.2% in the month.

At midday the Dow and S&P 500 were each up 0.4% while the Nasdaq was 0.3% higher.

Stocks on the Move
 Boeing (BA) said today it will unveil its proposed fix for the batteries in its new 787 aircraft on Friday. The 787 has been grounded since January after the plane’s batteries caught fire in two separate incidents.  The announcement of the battery fixes comes after the FAA gave the green light to Boeing to begin flight testing of the aircraft again earlier this week. Boeing shares were little changed at midday and are up over 12% year-to-date.

Shares of  Dow Chemical (DOW) were up less than 1% after the firm announced it is accelerating its plan to sell around $1.5 billion of non-core businesses over the next 18 months. The move comes as the firm tries to rationalize its business and realize $2.5 billion in cost savings.

 Vera Bradley's (VRA) fourth-quarter results came in  ahead of management's preannouncement issued in mid-January, driven by increased distribution and e-commerce gains. However, the first-quarter outlook was below consensus expectations and the commentary related to the firm's full-year guidance wasn't terribly inspiring. Net revenue came in at $162.5 million, up 20% year-over-year, and ahead of management's guidance, but segment growth wasn't consistent. Same-store sales were down 0.4% on weak traffic, as management cited a more price-competitive environment and weak consumer. Operating margins were up slightly (30 basis points, at 24.6%), as channel mix and efficiency gains were partially offset by human capital and marketing expense increases. Shares fell over 8% on the report.

Foreign Markets
European markets were higher on the day. In late trading the FTSE 100Paris CAC and Germany’s DAX were up 0.5%, 0.6% and 1.8% respectively.

Asian shares also gained today. The Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng were each up 0.3% while the Nikkei 225 was 1.2% higher.

Jeremy Glaser does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.