Closing Bell: Investors Shrug Off Economic News; Finance, Tech Stocks Gain


Stocks posted solid gains Thursday as investors chose not worry about some so-so economic news.

The Dow Industrials added 21 points, but closed well off session highs. The S&P 500 gained six and the Nasdaq was up 23.

The nation's economy remains on a slow growth track. Revised GDP rose 2.4 percent in the first quarter, and initial jobless claims edged higher last week.

Investors at the NYSE
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Investors also shook off another big sell-off in Japan: The Nikkei index tumbled five percent. Earlier this week it plunged seven percent.

The feeling on Wall Street is that economic numbers and trouble overseas will discourage the Fed from ending its bond-buying program any time soon. If that's the case, it will continue to provide enough fuel to keep the market going.

Financial, utility and technology stocks led today's advance. Many leading finance stocks are trading at or near their highest levels in more than a year. Goldman Sachs (GS) rose about $1.70, closing at a 52-week high. And utilities, which have fallen out of favor recently as bond yields rise, bounced back.
Nevada based NV Energy (NVE) jumped 22 percent after agreeing to be acquired by a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B).

Clearwire (CLWR) soared 29 percent after Dish Network (DISH) raised its offer to acquire the company, which is the object of a bidding war. Sprint-Nextel (S) is also in the hunt. Both want Clearwater's 4G wireless spectrum.

There were some big tech and internet winners:

  • EMC (EMC) climbed five percent after the data storage company said it would begin paying a dividend this summer.

  • Facebook (FB) rose five percent on an analyst upgrade.

  • Priceline (PCLN) gained 15 points, or two percent. The online travel agency will issue $1 billion in debt, and buy back up to $1 billion in stock.

And First Solar (FSLR) remains red hot: It rose six percent as Goldman Sachs raised its rating and its price target. The solar panel manufacturer has soared nearly 80 percent this year.

–Produced by Drew Trachtenberg