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S&P Soars Past 1,700, Yelp Screams

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The S&P 500 crossed 1,700 for the first time in its storied history Thursday after an encouraging U.S. jobs report and solid earnings reports from Yelp (YELP - Get Report) and Procter & Gamble (PG - Get Report) amid indications that the Federal Reserve has no intention to reduce its stimulative bond-buying program anytime soon.

"The breadth of this bull market is strong," Craig Johnson, a Minneapolis-based senior technical research analyst at Piper Jaffray said in a note. "While the dog days of summer may lead to some near-term volatility, we recommend investors stay the course."

The S&P 500 surged 1.25% to 1,706.87 after reaching as high as 1,707.85. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.83% to 15,628.02. The Nasdaq jumped 1.36% to 3,675.74.

Gains by Procter & Gamble, Yelp and Apple (AAPL) were offsetting declines in energy led by industry leader Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report), which reported earnings that missed estimates.

Nutritional supplement stock Herbalife ( HLF ) rose 0.03% to $65.52, extending the gains of the prior session after CNBC on Wednesday reported that billionaire investor George Soros had taken a large long position in the company, making it one of this top three positions.

Procter & Gamble gained 1.7% to $81.64 after the consumer goods giant reported quarterly earnings of 79 cents a share on revenue of $20.7 billion, beating the average analyst earnings estimate of 77 cents a share on revenue of $20.55 billion.

Yelp gained 23.2% to $51.50 after the online local listings site exceeded second-quarter estimates and raised its full-year revenue outlook. It also was upgraded to outperform from market perform at Northland Securities.

Apple shares added 0.93% to $456.76. The company's suppliers are gearing up for mass production of a new iPad mini in the fourth quarter that likely will feature a high-resolution screen from rival Samsung, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report) slipped 1.1% to $92.73 after the largest U.S. energy company posted quarterly earnings of $1.55 a share, falling short of the average analyst estimate of $1.90 a share as net income tumbled 57% to $6.9 billion amid crude oil prices declines and weakness at its refining business.

Initial jobless claims fell 19,000 to 326,000 in the week ended July 27, according to the Labor Department. Economists on average were expecting claims of 345,000, according to a poll of economists by Thomson Reuters. The four-week moving average came in at 341,250, a decrease of 4,500.

Continuing claims for the week ended July 20 also declined, down 52,000 to 2.951 million, versus the average economist estimate of 2.994 million.

Meanwhile job cuts declined slightly in July as employers announced plans to reduce payrolls by 37,701 workers, down 4.2% from June, global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas said it in latest job cuts report.

The jobs reports will be followed by the widely watched July government nonfarm payrolls report on Friday as the market tries to find clues into when the Fed will start tapering its bond-buying program.

In other economic headlines, the U.S. manufacturing sector looked to have experienced its strongest expansion in four months in July, according to financial information services company Markit. The final Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index came in at 53.7, up from an eight-month low of 51.9 in June and above the earlier flash estimate of 53.2, suggesting a solid improvement in overall manufacturing business conditions domestically.

The July composite index from the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing survey was corroborating evidence of improved U.S. manufacturing conditions indicating continued and greater-than-expected expansion at 55.4% from 50.9% in June. A rise to 52% was expected. The Employment Index portion of the report registered 54.4%, an increase of 5.7 percentage points from June.

Investors were shrugging off weak June construction spending data, which showed a fall of 0.6% after an upwardly-revised 1.3% gain in May. A rise of 0.4% was expected.

July auto sales reports were expected throughout the day Thursday. An improving economic outlook and consumer confidence amid a low interest rate environment encouraged upbeat U.S. sales throughout the month with Ford (F - Get Report), Nissan and Chrysler all reporting increases of 11% and General Motors (GM - Get Report) posting a rise of 16%. GM increased 1.7% to $36.47 and Ford advanced 1.8% to $17.19.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for China increased to 50.3 in July from 50.1 in June, better than the average economist estimate of 49.9, according to a Thomson Reuters survey of economists. The data showed that China's manufacturing sector continued to expand last month despite expectations of a contraction.

Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

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

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F $13.43 -1.40%
GM $31.25 -1.57%
HLF $57.35 -2.10%
PG $81.10 0.16%
YELP $22.15 2.98%


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