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Stocks Finish Higher on Jobs Data, China Stimulus Hopes

The Census Bureau said Thursday that durable goods orders fell 13.2% in August after three consecutive monthly increases, and was the largest decrease since January 2009. Excluding transportation, orders fell 1.6%.

Economists predicted durable goods would decline 5%; excluding the transportation element, expectations were for a rise of 0.3%.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said its third estimate on second-quarter gross domestic product came in up 1.3%, down from the prior estimate of 1.7%. Expectations were for an increase of 1.7%.

The National Association of Realtors said that its Pending Home Sales Index declined 2.6% to 99.2 in August from an upwardly revised 101.9 in July. Economists had expected no month-on-month change to occur.

"Overall, a disappointingly soft report that challenges some of the recent strength in the housing market data," commented Ian Lyngen, strategist at CRT.

In corporate news, shares of Research In Motion (RIMM) rose 2% in Thursday's regular session ahead of its fiscal second-quarter report. After the close, the stock was up more than 10% after the BlackBerry maker posted a narrower than anticipated loss.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT - Get Report) shares jumped 3.9% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to buy.

Thor Industries (THO) shares gained 5.8% after the manufacturer and supplier of recreation vehicles and small and mid-size buses posted stronger-than-anticipated fourth-quarter results as the company's recreational vehicle business booked double-digit sales increases.

Sealy (ZZ) shares popped 2.3% after Tempur-Pedic International ( TPX ) said it will buy its mattress maker competitor for roughly $242 million and assume around $750 million in debt.

Tempur-Pedic shares surged 14.4%.

Discover Financial Services (DFS) reported third-quarter earnings of $1.21 a share, beating estimates of $1.03 a share, as demand for its credit cards rose in the United States. Shares rose 7.3%.

McCormick (MKC) shares were off 1.8% after the spice company disappointed on third-quarter revenue.

Dollar General (DG - Get Report) shares fell 1.6% after the discount retailer announced a 30 million-share secondary stock offering.

--Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.
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