Stocks Close Modestly Higher

Oil reaches another record level.
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Updated from 4:11 p.m. EDT

Stocks closed a little higher Thursday on what was a fairly subdued session on Wall Street, the most notable news being another record high in the price of oil.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 15.76 points, or 0.15%, to 10,450.63, and the

S&P 500

was higher by 2.78 points, or 0.23%, to 1212.37. The

Nasdaq Composite

added 5.46 points, or 0.26%, to 2134.37. The 10-year Treasury was unchanged in price with a yield of 4.16%, while the dollar fell against the yen and euro.

"They don't call these the dog days of August for no reason," said Al Goldman, chief market strategist with A.G. Edwards. "The market is watching the one bouncing ball that is oil. There's still light volume. We've got a very dull market that climbed today but without any enthusiasm."

About 1.20 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

, with advancers beating decliners by a 9-to-7 margin. Trading volume on the Nasdaq was 1.32 billion shares, with advancers outpacing decliners 8 to 7.

Crude reversed course and finished higher, after having been down for much of the day. The October crude contract closed up 17 cents to $67.49 a barrel in Nymex floor trading, yet another record.

"Oil is, of course, driving the market as there really isn't anything to hang your hat on," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer with Oaktree Asset Management. "There really isn't anything else out there, so people are looking at oil and positive economic data."

Traders will keep an eye on Tropical Storm Katrina, which is expected to hit the Florida coast in the coming days. Despite the latest weather forecasts suggesting Katrina might veer north and miss drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, crude traded higher.

On the economic front, the Labor Department said jobless claims fell 4,000 to 315,000 last week, in line with economists' expectations. The four-week moving average rose 1,250 to 315,000.

Stronger sectors Thursday included utilities, health care, technology, semiconductors and retail. Energy, materials and homebuilding were among the session's laggards.

The European Commission has given conditional approval for

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

to buy rival

Guidant

(GDT)

for $25.4 billion in cash and stock. The EU stated that the acquisition wouldn't hurt competition as long as Johnson & Johnson sells some of its smaller medical units. J&J added 28 cents, or 0.5%, to $62.53. Guidant was lower by 55 cents, or 0.8%, to close at $71.10.

Shares of

Six Flags

(PKS)

were up almost 15% on Instinet after it said it will accept proposals regarding a possible sale of the theme park company. While its board said it will oppose Red Zone LLC's attempt to initiate a tender offer to gain control of the company, it will invite the investment firm, owned by Daniel Snyder, to participate in the auction. Six Flags jumped 72 cents, or 11%, to $7.26.

Late Wednesday,

Johnson Controls

(JCI) - Get Report

said it will purchase heating and cooling equipment maker

York International

(YRK)

in a deal worth about $2.4 billion, excluding the assumption of debt. Johnson Controls said that adding York, with estimated sales of nearly $5 billion, would increase its rate of growth. Johnson Controls rose 4.9% to $59.53, while York surged 36% to $56.79.

Elsewhere,

Eastman Kodak

(EK)

said it plans to cut 900 jobs from its workforce as it closes some of its facilities. The stock fell 4 cents, or 0.2%, to $25.

In earnings, homebuilder

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Report

posted fiscal third-quarter earnings of $215.5 million, or $1.27 a share, up from $106 million, or 66 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue jumped 54% to $1.56 billion from a year earlier. The Thomson First Call consensus was for earnings of $1.19 a share on revenue of $1.53 billion. Toll Brothers lost $1.90, or 3.8%, to $48.10.

TiVo

(TIVO) - Get Report

reported its first quarterly profit as a company late Wednesday, posting earnings of $240,000, or break-even on a per-share basis, compared with a loss of $10.8 million, or 13 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 46% from a year ago to $40.7 million in the current quarter. Analysts were expecting a loss of 4 cents a share on revenue of $40.7 million.

However, TiVo said it has abandoned its previous target of a profitable fourth quarter and will also forgo providing subscriber forecasts. The stock slid 94 cents, or 15.4%, to $5.18.

Also late Wednesday,

Intuit

(INTU) - Get Report

posted a loss of $20 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with a loss of $42.1 million, or 22 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue reached $301.8 million in the quarter. Excluding items, Intuit lost $14.7 million, or 8 cents a share. The Thomson First Call consensus was for a loss of 6 cents a share with sales of $281.9 million. The company also said it will post a wider-than-expected loss for the current quarter. Intuit fell $2.57, or 5.6%, to $43.76.

PetsMart

(PETM)

posted second-quarter earnings of $35.7 million, or 24 cents a share, up from $29.1 million, or 19 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue grew to $899.1 million from $806 million a year earlier. The Thomson First Call consensus was for EPS of 22 cents on revenue of $905.2 million. PetsMart said it expects to earn 21 cents a share in the third quarter, short of analysts' forecasts of 26 cents a share. The stock was down $3.86, or 13.5%, to finish at $24.65.

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On Thursday biopharmaceutical company

Novavax

(NVAX) - Get Report

reported positive preclinical results for its vaccine for influenza, which showed it was effective in protecting animals exposed to avian flu. The stock climbed 28.4%, up 27 cents, to $1.22.

Overseas markets were mostly lower, with London's FTSE 100 down 0.4% to 5255 and Germany's Xetra DAX off 1.2% to 4856. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell 0.8% overnight to 12,405, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.1% to 14,889.

To view Gregg Greenberg's video take on today's market, click here

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