Jobless Claims Fall, Gold Climbs, and Earnings Remain Mixed: Thursday Recap

The markets closed up on Thursday.

DJIA: +0.17% to 14,700.80 S&P 500: +0.40% to 1,585.16 NASDAQ: +0.62% to 3,289.99
Gold: +$38.30 to 1,462.00 per ounce Oil: +2.13% to $93.38 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: +0.001 points 1.706%

Is The U.S. Economy Finally Creating Jobs? Between the Labor Department’s Employment Situation Report — which showed that the U.S. economy created a disappointing 88,000 jobs in March — and the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits picking up pace throughout the month, a dark cloud has been hanging over the labor market. But — amid the current run of soft economic data — the Labor Department reported Thursday that last week initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low, a possible indication that employers are experiencing higher demand and may increase hiring… (Read more.)

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Will the U.S. Become a Natural Gas Exporter? Thursday’s weekly report on United States natural gas stockpiles, released by the Energy Information Administration, contained no surprises: inventories rose by 30 billion cubic feet last week, well within the range of 27 to 31 billion feet expected by analysts. Ahead of the announcement, natural gas futures prices were up approximately 2.2 percent, at $4.19 per million British thermal units, but fell slightly to $4.17 immediately following the report… (Read more.)

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) closed the day up 2.2 percent but fell as much as 2 percent in post-market trading. The company provided a lower-than-expected forecast for the second quarter, although first-quarter performance beat estimates. Sales climbed 22 percent to $16.07 billion. Net income decreased 37 percent to $0.18 per share.

Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has reportedly hired advisers to help prepare a $100 billion cash-and-stock bid for Vodafone’s (NASDAQ:VOD) 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless. Two people familiar with the matter tell Reuters that Verizon is still building the proposal, but could aggressively push the deal as soon as it is put together. Verizon stock was up about 1.1 percent in pre-market trading, while Vodafone was up about 3.8 percent.

Samsung (SSNLF.PK) attracted some attention when Lee Don Joo, president of the strategic marketing office at Samsung Mobile, said that “pre-order demand [for the Galaxy S4] is much strong than expected, so it’s difficult to rapidly boost supply in the short term.”

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) closed the day down 1.52 percent. The company’s widening chemical margins made up for lower crude production and prices, and it reported Thursday that net income rose for the first quarter. Profit increased to $9.5 billion, or $2.12 per share, from the $9.45 billion, or $2.00 per share, reported a year earlier. Based on the average analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg, Exxon was expected to report pre-share net income of $2.05… (Read more.)

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Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) closed the day up 1.12 percent but fell 2.55 percent after the markets closed. The company raised its outlook for the year, but missed analyst expectations.

QUALCOMM (NASDAQ:QCOM) reported strong fiscal second-quarter results on Wednesday after the closing bell, but issued a relatively weak guidance that had the stock down 5.39 percent at Thursday’s close. Fiscal second-quarter revenue increased 23.89 percent to $6.12 billion, beating the average estimate of $6.07 billion. Adjusted earnings increased 15.84 percent to $1.17 per share, beating estimates for $1.16 per share. The company expects full-year earnings in a range between $4.40 and $4.55 per share, on the lower end of expectations for $4.54 per share.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) closed the day up 14.98 percent. The company reported that revenue decreased 9.78 percent to $1.14 billion, below estimates for $1.19 billion. Adjusted earnings decreased 29.41 percent to $0.60 per share, beating the mean estimate of $0.32 per share.

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