Stocks Off Highs, but Still Gaining - TheStreet

Updated from 10:01 a.m. EDT

The major U.S. stock indices were off their highs but still marking gains Thursday as traders waded through a pile of earnings statements and a mass of economic data.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was adding 34 points at 11,283, and the

S&P 500

was tacking on 6 points at 1251. The

Nasdaq

was up 8 points at 2293.

On Wednesday, the blue-chip indices each climbed 2.5%, and the Nasdaq jumped 3.1% as crude oil prices plummeted and encouraging earnings from

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

at least temporarily assuaged concerns about the financial sector.

With the arrival of the new session, corporate earnings were again playing a large role in the market's moves. Telecom firm

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

reported in-line second-quarter earnings and raised its forecast for 2008.

Also out were numbers from Dow stocks

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

,

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Report

and

United Technologies

. All three topped estimates.

In the financial space,

PNC Bank

(PNC) - Get Report

likewise beat the Street's expectations, as did asset manager

BlackRock

(BLK) - Get Report

.

BB&T

(BBT) - Get Report

announced a second-quarter profit that was down 6.6% from a year ago but just edged ahead of analyst expectations, per Thomson Reuters.

Not all the news was so encouraging.

CIT Group

(CIT) - Get Report

swung to a second-quarter loss due in part to the sale of its manufactured-housing portfolio, and

Bank of New York Mellon

(BK) - Get Report

saw falling profits that left it shy of Wall Street's expectations.

In technology, online auction house

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

suffered on lowered earnings guidance for the current quarter and downgrades from Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. Lehman Brothers and Jefferies piled on, lowering their price targets for eBay.

Steel companies

Nucor

(NUE) - Get Report

and

Reliance Steel

(RS) - Get Report

also reported. Both companies beat analyst profit expectations. Reliance also announced an offering of 6.75 million common shares.

Looking at commodities, crude oil was lately up $1.91 at $136.51 a barrel. Gold was gaining $5.90 to $968.60 an ounce.

On the data front, building permits rose 11.6% in June to an annualized rate of 1.1 million, ahead of economists' predictions. June housing starts rose 9.1% to an annualized rate of 1.1 million units.

Both increases owed largely to a change in New York building codes. Without that change, new building projects would have declined 4%. Analysts were expecting a rate of 965,000 units.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department's reading on jobless claims for the week ended July 12 rose by 18,000, less than expected, to a seasonally adjusted number of 366,000.

The Philadelphia

Federal Reserve's

July regional manufacturing index came in at -16.4, up from -17.1 in May but below the consensus estimate of -15, indicating ongoing weakness in the region.

Treasury prices were edging downward. The 10-year note was falling 10/32 in price to yield 3.98%, and the 30-year was 4/32 lower, yielding 4.59%. The dollar was falling vs. the euro and pound, but gaining on the yen.

Overseas markets were broadly climbing. The FTSE in London, the DAX in Frankfurt, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng were all trading in the green.