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Lennar steals the show on Thursday

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Thursday’s trading session got off to a slow start. Lackluster earnings reports from a number of companies, along with a disappointing report on initial unemployment claims served to restrain the advances of the three major stock indices during the first hour. Miami-based companies saw their stocks fly higher than most satellites. Lennar (LEN) grabbed national media attention with a gain of almost 6 percent.

The Department of Labor reported that the advance figure for initial unemployment claims for the week ending on April 24 dropped by a mere 1,000 to 388,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 389,000. Economist surveys had been pointing toward a more significant drop below 380,000. The relatively small decrease of only 1,000 claims is well within the report’s margin of error. As a result, when the “revised figure” is published next week, we may learn that initial unemployment claims actually increased during the week ending on April 24. In the mean time, here is what we learned from the Labor Department on Thursday morning:

In the week ending April 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 388,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 389,000. The 4-week moving average was 381,750, an increase of 6,250 from the previous week's revised average of 375,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6 percent for the week ending April 14, unchanged from the prior week.

Downbeat quarterly earnings reports poured in from a number of bellwether companies. United Parcel Service (UPS) is closely watched because its shipping traffic can provide a glimpse on commerce trends. UPS posted a 2.4% drop in quarterly earnings. Dow Chemical, Exxon and Aetna Insurance all reported earnings which fell short of analysts’ expectations.

At 10:00, the National Association of Realtors released its report on pending home sales for March, which indicated a shocking, 4.1% increase to 101.4. The median consensus estimate signaled an increase of only 1%.

As of 10:30 the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by 52 points to 13,143. The S&P 500 Index advanced by 0.07% to 1,391. The Nasdaq Composite advanced by 0.26% to 3,037.

As the day progressed, positive earnings reports were released by Dunkin Brands (DNKN) and Western Digital (WDC).

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 113 points to settle at 13,204 for a gain of 87 basis points (0.87 percent). The S&P 500 advanced by 67 basis points (0.67 percent) to finish at 1,399. The NASDAQ Composite gained 69 basis points (0.69 percent) to end the day at 3,050.

Miami-based corporations had a huge day on Thursday. Lennar (LEN) led the group with an astounding gain of 5.71% to close at 27.38, as a result of the surprising report on pending home sales. Royal Caribbean (RCL) rose by a shocking 3.24% to finish at 27.70. Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) advanced by 1.53% to close at 32.58. Ryder System (R) gained a more modest 10 basis points (0.10%) to end the day at 49.03.

The following companies will be playing “beat the number” on Friday, with the release of their quarterly earnings reports: Acadia Healthcare (ACHC), Calpine (CPN), Chevron (CVX), Coventry Health Care (CVH), Ford (F), Goodyear (GT), International Paper (IP), Libbey (LBY), Merck (MEC), Newell Rubbermaid (NWL), OneBeacon Insurance (OB), Pilgrims Pride (PPC), Proctor & Gamble (PG), Simon Property Group (SPG), Superior Industries (SUP) and Weyerhaeuser (WY). Good luck!

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