Stock Market Today: Dow, S&P 500 at Session Highs After GDP Growth Smashes Expectations - TheStreet

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through 18,000 and the S&P 500 moved to session highs as third-quarter GDP showed signs of better-than-expected economic health. However, overall markets were mixed with the Nasdaq pulled lower by biopharmaceutical stocks.

The S&P 500 added 0.29% on Tuesday and the Dow climbed 0.52% to 18,066.

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"18,000 is just kind of a nice, round number but realistically it doesn't really mean a whole lot," said Hennessy Funds' Brian Peery in a call. "We certainly think over the long haul that the market is heading higher. There are going to be some bumps in the road along the way and some increased volatility but over the long haul you can use any kind of a dip or a correction as a great buying opportunity."

Pharmaceutical stocks dragged on the Nasdaq, which was down 0.21%. Gilead Sciences (GILD) - Get Report , RegeneronPharmaceuticals (REGN) - Get Report and Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN) - Get Report were all trading lower after ExpressScripts (ESRX) announced an exclusive deal to cover only AbbVie's (ABBV) - Get Report newly approved hepatitis C treatment. The Health Care SPDR ETF (XLV) - Get Report slid 2.3%.

A new estimate of third-quarter GDP came in at 5%, its highest in 11 years. The previous estimate had put GDP at 3.9% and economists had expected an upward revision to 4.3%. However, a separate reading on factory orders showed unexpected weakness. Durable goods orders slipped 0.7% in November to $242.3 billion, below an expected 3% increase. 

"It is indeed great news that the economy put in such solid, robust growth in the third quarter," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief market analyst at Interactive Brokers, in a report. "It is in keeping with the picture the Fed has been trying to paint, which leaves them wanting to move out of the basement in terms of a near-zero interest rate setting. Yet it's not so clever that the outlook is reflecting weakness outside of the US economy and is a likely guarantee that the pace of growth in the fourth quarter will be less robust."

Consumer sentiment surged to 93.8 in the first two weeks of December, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan Sentiment Index. Cheaper gasoline prices have helped to fuel discretionary spending in other parts of the consumer economy. Economists had expected a reading of 93.

Personal income figures missed estimates, up 0.4% in November compared to an estimated 0.5% increase. Income data has been a key concern for the Federal Reserve in determining when to raise rates next year. While the broad labor market has exhibited signs of tightening, wage growth has shown continued weakness.

New home sales also missed analysts' estimates, falling 1.6% in November to 438,000, its slowest rate in four months. Consensus was for an increase of 460,000 over the month.

Crude oil prices were gaining with West Texas Intermediate crude adding 2% to $56.39 a barrel. Arab OPEC producers said they expect global oil to rebound to between $70 and $80 a barrel by end-2015 as demand picks up in line with a global economic recovery.

Wedbush analysts said channel checks indicate that the GoPro (GPRO) - Get Report HERO camera was sold out at the majority of Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart locations. The camera maker climbed more than 3% on the positive note.

Ocwen Financial (OCN) - Get Report continued to tumble after Tuesday's announcement the company had reached a settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services that stipulated that founder William Erbey will resign. The company had been under investigation for mishandling foreclosures. Since Monday, shares have dropped more than 34%.

Hertz (HTZ) - Get Report jumped 8.1% after raising car rental prices. The hike will go into effect on Jan. 1. The firm said the increase in base prices was due to escalating costs related to the entire fleet.

Walgreen (WAG)  shares jumped 3% after fiscal first-quarter profit beat estimates and pharmacy sales gained 9%. Keurig (GMCR)  shares were tumbling 2% after the company recalled 6.6 million of its coffee makers. 

NQ Mobile (NQ) spiked 30% after announcing a buyback program worth $80 million. The 12-month program can repurchase one-quarter of outstanding shares at current levels.

Radian (RDN) - Get Report shares climbed over 3% after the group agreed to sell Radian Asset Assurance to Assured Guaranty (AGO) - Get Report for $810 million.

Chesapeake Energy (CHK) - Get Report jumped more than 8% after closing the sale of a bundle of properties to Southwestern Energy (SWN) - Get Report for just under $5 billion. The company's board separately authorized a $1 billion stock buyback program.

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--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.