Updated from 9:37 a.m.
Stocks climbed on Thursday, looking to reverse part of recent days' declines, after a series of positive earnings from retail companies and another increase in crude prices.
The S&P 500 was up 0.24%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.33%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.21%.
In retail earnings news, Kohl's (KSS) - Get Kohl's Corporation Report bounded 12% higher after topping estimates in its recent quarter, though the retailer did cut its full-year earnings guidance. Adjusted earnings of $1.22 a share beat forecasts by 19 cents a share, while same-store sales declined 1.8%, though they met expectations.
Kohl's reduced its full-year adjusted profit range to $3.80 to $4 a share, down from its previous range of $4.05 to $4.25. The new guidance remained in line with analysts' consensus of $3.84.
Macy's (M) - Get Macy's Inc Report popped 14% after detailing plans to cut 15% of its locations, or 100 of its stores, as the retailer faces falling revenue. The company previously announced it would close 40 locations this year. Same-store sales over the second quarter fell 2%, more than half the decline analysts expected. The second quarter saw Macy's sixth straight three-month period of sales in decline.
Alibaba (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Report climbed nearly 6%, trading at its best levels in 14 months, after topping sales and profit estimates over the recent quarter. Adjusted earnings of 74 cents a share came in 12 cents above consensus. Revenue increased 59% to $4.84 billion, exceeding estimates of $4.56 billion. Mobile users helped to drive growth with the number of monthly active users on a cell device jumping 39% to 427 million.
Crude oil prices jumped on Thursday after the International Energy Agency forecast a rebalancing of the oil markets in coming months.
Oil's recent decline "has put the 'glut' back into the headlines even though our balances show essentially no oversupply during the second half of the year," the IEA wrote in its monthly report. "Our crude oil balance indicates a hefty draw in the third quarter after a lengthy stretch of uninterrupted builds."
West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. oil benchmark, has been under recent pressure as stockpiles in the U.S. built and production among members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries remained around record highs.
West Texas Intermediate was up 1.5% to $42.33 a barrel on Thursday morning.
Shake Shack (SHAK) - Get Shake Shack, Inc. Class A Report plunged 8% on Thursday morning on worries over slower growth. Same-store sales, which measure sales at locations open at least 12 months, rose 4.5% in its second quarter, slightly weaker than an estimated 4.8% increase and a fraction of 12.9% growth in the year-ago quarter. The burger chain did manage to exceed estimates for profit and sales over the quarter.
Elizabeth Arden (RDEN) was slightly lower after a mixed fourth quarter. The cosmetics company reported a net loss of 58 cents a share, 20 cents narrower than expected. Revenue climbed 2.1% to $192.65 million but came in just shy of expectations by $1.1 million.
More than 90% of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings in what has been another quarter of declining earnings, though less steep than anticipated. Expectations had been conservative heading into the season, with many expecting the headwinds of a stronger U.S. dollar, weaker global growth, a prolonged period of low oil prices, and soft manufacturing activity to continue to impact the top and bottom lines of S&P 500 companies.
Of those S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 70% have exceeded analysts' estimates, according to Thomson Reuters.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) tumbled 7% on reports it is under criminal investigation for its link with now-defunct Philidor. Federal investigators are looking into whether the link between Valeant and Philidor was used to defraud insurers, according to The Wall Street Journal. In particular, investigators are looking into whether Philidor concealed its link to Valeant while urging doctors to use Valeant prescriptions.
SeaWorld (SEAS) - Get SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. Report was upgraded to neutral from underperform, Credit Suisse said Thursday. The firm said the move was a valuation call, based on a $12 price target, as the stock has fallen 35% since May.
Jobless claims dipped over the past week, remaining below the 300,000 level for their 75th straight week, a record not seen in more than four decades. The number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 1,000 to 266,000 in the week ended Aug. 6, according to the Labor Department. Economists expected claims to fall to 265,000. The less-volatile four-week average increased by 3,000 to 262,750.
Import prices increased 0.1% in July, while export prices rose 0.2%, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. The increase in import prices marks its fifth month in a row, while export prices rose for their fourth straight month.