Updated from 9:15 a.m. EDTStocks in the U.S. opened higher Thursday, as a decline in third-quarter GDP was narrower than expected and companies issued a heap of quarterly earnings statements. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 209 points to 9200, and the S&P 500 added 23 points to 953. The Nasdaq jumped 38 points to 1695. Ahead of Thursday's session, the Department of Commerce reported that GDP contracted 0.3% in the third quarter, providing a strong indication that the U.S. has entered a recession. The decline was narrower than expected by economists but down from growth of 2.8% in the second quarter. The Department of Labor's initial jobless claims for the week ended Oct. 25 registered at 479,000, above analyst estimates and level with the previous week. Additional intervention to bolster the economy looked to be in the works, as Bloomberg reported that the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. may devote $500 billion to help avert home foreclosures. In the wake of the Federal Reserve's 50-basis-point rate cut that brought its target interest rate to 1% Wednesday, debt markets were relaxing. Three-month dollar Libor was down 23 basis points to 3.19%, and overnight Libor declined 41 basis points to 0.73%. A smattering of corporate earnings were once again occupying traders' attention. Following Wednesday's close, insurance company MetLife ( MET) announced a decline in quarterly profit. Fellow insurer Prudential ( PRU) swung to a loss. Exchange operator CME Group ( CME) said profit declined year over year. Investors heard from a variety of energy companies. Integrated oil firm and Dow component Exxon Mobil ( XOM) posted earnings of $14.8 billion, the largest quarterly profit ever reported by a U.S. company.
Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A) reported income that rose 71% year over year on higher oil prices. Murphy Oil ( MUR), on the other hand, reported a substantial increase in third-quarter earnings but lowered guidance for the fourth quarter. Oil and natural gas firm Apache ( APA) reported a profit for the third quarter that increased 94% from the year-ago period. Ahead of Thursday's trading, telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent ( ALU) reported a loss on falling revenue and charges stemming from the merger between Alcatel and Lucent. Cell-phone manufacturer Motorola ( MOT) swung to a loss and lowered guidance for the full year. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca ( AZN) reported net income that rose year over year. Consumer products maker Colgate-Palmolive ( CL) also announced an increase in profit on rising sales. On the merger front, Delta Air Lines ( DAL) completed its acquisition of Northwest Airlines ( NWA). Crude oil Thursday was gaining 63 cents to $68.13 a barrel. Gold was rising $7.50 to $761.50 an ounce. Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were falling in price. The 10-year note was down 22/32 to yield 3.94%, and the 30-year was down 17/32, yielding 4.27%. The dollar was rising sharply vs. the yen, but falling against the euro and pound. Overseas, European exchanges including the FTSE in London and the Dax in Frankfurt were trading higher. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed with substantial gains. ( Photo gallery: Trading Faces)