Closing Bell: Upbeat U.S. Economic Data Stops Global Selloff


Good news on the U.S. economy stops the global selloff in its tracks.

The Dow Industrials avoided their first four-day losing streak of the year, jumping 180 points and closing back above 15,000. The Nasdaq gained 44 points, and the S&P 500 added 23.

A pedestrian walks past an electronic stock board in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, June 13, 2013. Photographer: Junko Kimura/Bloomberg
Junko Kimura/Bloomberg

Before the open, it looked like the losses would continue, following another big selloff in Japan. The benchmark Nikkei Index plunged more than 6 percent overnight, pushing it into bear market territory –- down 20 percent from its high.

But some positive economic data managed to stop the bleeding.

The Labor Department reported that 12,000 fewer Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week. Jobless claims are now close to their lowest levels since 2007, indicating that hiring may start picking up.

Consumer spending also seems to be gathering steam. Retail sales jumped 0.6 percent in May, after just a slight increase in April.

At the NYSE, investors turned up their noses at Coty's debut. The company makes perfumes for Calvin Klein, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, among others. But the stock lost 1 percent on its first day, amid concerns that Coty may face heavy competition and a decline in discretionary spending.

On the M&A front, Gannett is buying Belo for about $1.5 billion dollars. The deal will nearly double Gannett's television portfolio, making it the nation's fourth-largest owner of major network affiliates. Gannett surged 34 percent on the news, while Belo jumped more than 28 percent.

Meanwhile, shares of Safeway gained 7.5 percent on word that it's selling off its Canadian operations. The buyer is Sobeys, and the price tag is $5.7 billion.

Among blue chips, Caterpillar, Merck and Pfizer were among the biggest winners. But DuPont lost ground after saying that its earnings this year will come in at the low end of previous forecasts.

And finally, Apple may be trying to take a bite out of the smartphone competition. Reuters cited sources who say the company will roll out two new iPhones in the next year. One may be cheaper than the current models and available in different colors, while the other could have a larger screen.