The S&P 500 was up 0.38%, the Dowincreased 0.26%, and the Nasdaq added 0.66%.
Walmart rose 2.4% after topping net income estimates, though revenue came in slightly weaker than expected. Earnings rose to $1 a share from 98 cents in the same quarter a year earlier. Analysts anticipated earnings of 96 cents. Sales of $117.5 billion came in below estimates of $117.8 billion. U.S. same-store sales increased 1.4%.
Health care shares pushed the Nasdaq into positive territory. Incyte (INCY) - Get Incyte Corporation Report surged 8% after its an immune-system booster drug, combined with Merck's (MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. Report immunotherapy Keytruda showed positive results in an ongoing study with advanced lung cancer patients. Around 35% of patients given the combination treatment had tumors shrink by at least 30%.
Fellow Nasdaq component AthenaHealth (ATHN) - Get Athena Technology Acquisition Corp. Class A Reportrallied 17% after activist investor Paul Singer disclosed a 9.2% stake. In an filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Elliott Associates' Singer said shares "are significantly undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity."
More details have come to light in the investigation over the Trump campaign's ties to Russia. A report from Reuters said former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others in Donald Trump's presidential campaign had extensive contacts with Russian officials. According to Reuters sources, Flynn and others on Trump's team made contact with contacts associated with the Kremlin at least 18 times over the final seven months of the election.
The revelation follows news Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice named former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller to head a probe into allegations that Russia interfered in last year's presidential elections and any ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
On Twitter Thursday, Trump said the investigation was the "single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history," and complained that the Clinton campaign and Obama administration had not been investigated despite "all the illegal acts that took place."
The latest report follows on from a turbulent week for Trump and his team. On late Tuesday, a New York Times report found that Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to shut down the federal investigation into since-ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn was forced to resign on Feb. 13 amid questions over his contact with the Russian ambassador and discussions of U.S. sanctions.
Comey wrote a memo detailing his conversation with the president shortly after it took place, according to the Times, which cited two people who read the document. It's part of a paper trail Comey created documenting what he believed to be improper efforts to influence the investigation. The president fired Comey, who was heading an investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged ties with Russia, early last week.
On Monday, news broke that Trump had divulged highly classified intelligence to Russia during a meeting last week, according to a report from The Washington Post. Trump reportedly shared top-secret information on the fight against ISIS with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a meeting in which U.S. media was barred. The meeting had also raised eyebrows because it occurred just a day after Trump fired Comey.
These messy political developments in Washington spilled into financial markets on Wednesday in the most punishing day for stocks of 2017. The Dow fell 372 points, while the S&P 500 suffered its worst day since Sept. 9.
Jobless claims in the U.S. fell in the past week, another sign of a healthy labor market. The number of new claims for unemployment benefit fell by 4,000 to 232,000. The less volatile, four-week average declined by 2,750 to 240,750. Continuing claims fell by 22,000 to 1.9 million, settling in at the lowest level since late 1988.
Business conditions in the Philadelphia region improved at a faster pace in May, according to the latest Philadelphia Fed index. The measure increased to 38.8 in May from 22 in April, better than an expected reading of 19.6.
Cisco (CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report tumbled nearly 8% after disappointing revenue guidance its current quarter. The tech company anticipates current-quarter sales to decline by 4% to 6%, indicating sales no higher than $12.13 billion. Analysts anticipated sales of $12.5 billion. Cisco also announced plans to lay off 1,100 jobs. The company had announced plans to reduce its workforce by 5,500 jobs back in August.
Ralph Lauren (RL) - Get Ralph Lauren Corporation Class A Report slipped despite reporting a better-than-expected quarter. The fashion brand swung to a net loss of $2.48 a share from profit of 49 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted earnings of 89 cents a share came in higher than consensus of 78 cents. Revenue of $1.57 billion came in ahead of estimates of $1.56 billion.
Alibaba (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Report shares fell 1% as investors focused more on the Chinese internet giant's lower-than-expected earnings for the 2016 fourth quarter, rather than its significant top-line growth. Earnings of 63 cents a share missed estimates by 3 cents. Revenue surged 60% to $5.6 billion, $400 million above consensus.
Other earnings reports of note include L Brands (LB) - Get L Brands, Inc. Report , Children's Place (PLCE) - Get Children's Place, Inc. Report , Buckle (BKS) - Get Barnes & Noble, Inc. Report and Bon-Ton Stores (BONT) .
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