U.S. stocks edged higher in early trading Thursday, extending gains from a day earlier. Investors cheered earnings news from several retailers, including Best Buy, Dollar Tree and L Brands. Sears fell sharply after reporting disappointing results.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,890 in the first 45 minutes of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average rose three points, or 0.02 percent, to 16,536. The Nasdaq composite added nine points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,141.
RETAILER RALLY: Best Buy jumped $1.50, or 5.6 percent, to $26.78 after its earnings came in well ahead of what investors were looking for. Dollar Tree gained $3.73, or 7.5 percent, to $53.72 after reporting that its income rose nearly 4 percent in the latest quarter as shoppers spent more at its discount stores. L Brands, which owns store brands such as Bath and Body Works and Victoria’s Secret, rose 24 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $56.20.
NO LOVE: Sears Holdings reported a wider quarterly loss as sales slumped. Sears has been cutting costs, reducing inventory and selling assets as it tries to return to profitability. Revenue fell, partly because the company has fewer stores. Sears, which also operates Kmart, sank $1.31, or 3.6 percent, to $35.25.
ASIA: Thailand’s currency sank Thursday after the country’s military seized power in a coup. The Thai army chief’s announcement came after the local stock market had ended its trading day with a slight gain. The Thai stock exchange said trading would open as usual on Friday.
In Japan, the Nikkei surged more than 2 percent, helped by an optimistic report on China’s economy as well as minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last major meeting, which suggested the central bank was in no hurry to hike interest rates.
EUROPE: Major stock markets in Europe were flat following the release of a survey that showed little growth in manufacturing. Stocks were muted after a business survey indicated that economic growth in the region remains weak. France’s CAC 40 was little changed while Germany’s DAX rose 0.1 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was flat.
JOBS WATCH: The Labor Department reported that applications for unemployment benefits increased last week to a seasonally adjusted 326,000. A less volatile measure of unemployment claims, the four-week average, fell to 322,500. The average reached a seven-year low of 312,000 last month.
OTHER MARKETS: U.S. government bonds barely moved following the report on unemployment claims. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.54 percent. Gold jumped $10.30 to $1,298.40 an ounce.