Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.96%, S&P +0.86%, Nasdaq +0.13%, Oil +2.06%, Gold -1.74%.
On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) climbed to $97.71 a barrel. Precious metals were down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling to $1,760.50 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 0.86% to settle at $34.07.
Today’s markets were up because:
1) EU. French bond yields spiked today, while Italian yields, which climbed to a record 7.48% yesterday, eased slightly after a successful 5 billion-euro debt auction. Talk of a possible emergency meeting of the European Central Bank helped calm nerves after yesterday’s sell-off, while news emerged that former ECB vice president Lucas Papademos would step in for outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou to head Greece’s interim government. Even the European Commission chimed in with some news today, cutting its growth forecast for the euro zone in 2012 from 1.8% to just 0.5%.
2) Jobless claims. The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment insurance dropped to a seven-month low of 390,000 in the latest week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report, which was released this morning. The expectation was for jobless claims of 400,000.
3) Companies. Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) shares rallied today after a sell-off on Wednesday spurred by the networking giants’ fourth consecutive quarterly report in which earnings declined. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ:GMCR) declined today after the company reported sales and earnings that widely missed expectations late Wednesday. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares also fell today amid concern that a drop in supplier orders might be a sign of weakening iPad and iPhone sales.