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Stock Market Today: Stocks Get Support From Upbeat Earnings; Facebook Surges


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. benchmark stock indices were nudging higher Thursday, with the broader market on track for a third day of gains as international markets climbed on upbeat manufacturing news and earnings season continued to gain positive traction despite some misses.

The U.S. jobless claims report on Thursday also supported the higher market open. Initial jobless claims for the week of July 19 fell by 19,000 to their lowest level since Feb. 18, 2006, at a smaller-than-expected 284,000.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.04% to 17,093.24. The S&P 500 was rising 0.1% to 1,989.06. The Nasdaq was up 0.14% to 4,480.08. U.S. stocks closed mixed Wednesday, with the S&P 500 logging its 71st closing all-time high for this bull market since the market bottom on March 9, 2009.

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"The market continues to remind investors that the trend remains their friend, as it focuses on earnings growth while shrugging off global hostility concerns and the downward revision to second-quarter GDP growth estimates from above 3.5% to below 3% currently," wrote Sam Stovall, managing director of U.S. equity research at S&P Capital IQ.

Stovall noted that the market may be indicating that investors should be encouraged that modest growth will likely keep inflation in check and the Federal Reserve on hold as far as rates are concerned.

S&P Capital IQ estimated that second-quarter S&P 500 earnings growth should to come in at 7.3% year-over-year, with earnings per share of $28.89. That's up from its prior day estimate of 7% growth with EPS of $28.80.

Thursday is another busy day for corporate earnings after online social network Facebook (FB) reported Wednesday evening sharply higher second-quarter earnings on increasing revenue from mobile advertising.

Shares of Facebook were surging nearly 7% to $76.15.

Ford (F)was up 1.29% to $18.01 after reporting second-quarter earnings on Thursday of 32 cents share, up from 30 cents a year earlier. (AMZN), the online retailing giant, is expected by analysts on Thursday to report a second-quarter loss of 15 cents a share on revenue of $19.34 billion. AT&T (T) said second-quarter earnings fell as customers moved to cheaper cellphone plans. Chipmaker Qualcomm (QCOM) said fiscal third-quarter net income rose 42%, topping expectations, but guidance for the fourth quarter came in below forecasts. Caterpillar (CAT) reported second-quarter earnings that topped estimates by 17 cents at $1.69 a share, but disappointed on sales expectations as its China results came in soft. General Motors (GM) missed by a penny with earnings per share of 58 cents, as the auto giant continues to deal with the financial fallout of its massive recalls.

In other top corporate headlines, Walmart (WMT) announced that Greg Foran has been promoted to CEO of Walmart U.S., succeeding Bill Simon who has been in the role since June 2010 and will be transitioning out of the company. Foran was promoted to CEO of Walmart Asia earlier this year. Shares were off 0.92% to $76.28.

The roll call of U.S. economic reports Thursday also includes new home sales for June at 10 a.m. EDT.

International markets were generally higher. European stock indices reversed early losses to move higher on Thursday after positive manufacturing data pointed to a eurozone recovery. The Shanghai Composite increased 1.28% and the Hong Kong Hang Seng rose 0.71% after the HSBC "flash" manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index advanced to 52 in July from 50.7 in June.

-- By Andrea Tse in New York

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