The financial markets moved higher Thursday after discussions that certain provisions of the health care reform program will be delayed.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 95.88 points to 15,509.21, just 1 percent away from a record high. The Nasdaq composite index was up 21.89 points to 3,928.96, and the Standard & Poor’s Index rose 5.69 points to 1,752.07.
Fewer people filed for unemployment benefits in the past week. The Department of Labor said initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 12,000 to 350,000.
Gold rose to a five-week high, up $16.30 to $1,350.30 an ounce. Oil rose 25 cents to $97.11 a barrel.
Homebuilders rallied 3.3 percent as a group after PulteGroup Inc.’s (NYSE: PHM) profit surged. McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK) jumped 4.9 percent after boosting its annual forecast and agreeing to buy Germany’s Celesio AG for about $5.4 billion. Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTSX) climbed 4.9 percent as it raised its share buyback. Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX) tumbled the most in four years after its forecast trailed analysts’ estimates.
About 6.5 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 10 percent above the three-month average.
Some 47 companies in the S&P 500 posted results Thursday, the busiest day of the third-quarter season. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) surged 5 percent to $35.40 in after-hours trading after reporting sales and profit that topped estimates. The stock slipped 0.1 percent during the regular session.
Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) rallied 4.7 percent to $347.72 in extended trading, adding to Thursday’s 1.7 percent gain. The company’s revenue beat analysts’ estimates as consumers flocked to the world’s largest online retailer, fueling sales growth while net losses shrank.
Data on Thursday added to signs that economic growth is slowing, as U.S. manufacturing expanded in October at a weaker pace than forecast, according to the Markit Economics preliminary index.
The S&P Supercomposite Homebuilding Index jumped 3.3 for a third straight gain, as all 11 members climbed. PulteGroup, the second-largest U.S. homebuilder by market value, surged 7 percent to $17.85 after recording a tax-related gain and rising revenue from house sales.
Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) the biggest U.S. home improvement retailer, advanced 2.3 percent to $76.78 for the steepest climb in the Dow.
The Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index climbed 2.7 percent to the highest close since July 2007. Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) added 3.7 percent to $17.02 after earnings and operating revenue matched analysts’ forecasts.
U.S. Airways Group Inc. (NYSE: LCC) jumped 5.9 percent to $22.67, the highest level in almost six years.
McKesson (NYSE: MCK) rose 4.9 percent to an all-time high of $150. The largest U.S. pharmaceutical distributor said it will acquire the 50.01 percent stake in Celesio from Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH, a family-owned investment company, for $31 a share.
Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS) the maker of software that lets people access work files from home, rallied 4.9 percent to $58.79 after saying it plans to buy back as much as $500 million in shares.
Visa (NYSE: V) Inc. gained 2 percent to a record $202.91. The world’s biggest payments network increased its quarterly dividend by 21 percent to 40 cents a share.
Telephone shares fell 1 percent for the worst performance among 10 S&P 500 industries, as AT&T (NYSE: T) Inc. slipped 1.8 percent to $34.63 to halt a six-day rally.
Xerox (NYSE: XRX) fell 10 percent, the most since September 2009, to $9.61. The printer and copier pioneer lowered its full-year earnings forecast to as little as $1.08 a share, raising concerns about the company’s attempt to shift into business services.
Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE: BSX) dropped 6.1 percent to $11.54. The second-biggest maker of heart devices said it plans to eliminate as many as 1,500 more jobs as the industry struggles with shrinking markets and development costs.
— Bloomberg contributed to this report.