Stocks Climb Higher on Facebook's Wall of Good Feeling

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks accelerated gains late on Thursday as Facebook ( FB) surged on much better-than-expected earnings and data on durable goods orders suggested that the U.S. recovery may be gaining strength.

The S&P 500 added 0.3% to 1,690.25 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1 to 15,555.61. The Nasdaq zipped past the other indices on a 0.7% rise to 3,605.19 as Facebook soared 30% to $34.36 after beating second-quarter earnings estimates on Wednesday, led by strength in mobile revenue.

Facebook posted its highest price since May 21, 2012, its second day of trading, as the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social network earned 19 cents a share on $1.813 billion in revenue for the quarter. Analysts were looking for 14 cents a share on $1.62 billion in revenue for the quarter. Facebook's mobile advertising revenue accounted for 41% of advertising revenue during the quarter ended June 30. Total advertising revenue was $1.6 billion, 88% of total revenue, and up 61% year-over-year.

Elsewhere, PulteGroup ( PHM ) was leading S&P 500 decliners, tumbling 10% to $16.55 after the homebuilder missed quarterly earnings expectations and posted a 14% decline in net-income. Nationally, the PulteGroup said the U.S. housing market continues to gain momentum and remains "solidly on track towards a sustained, long-term recovery."

D. R. Horton ( DHI) followed PulteGroup as the second worst decliner on the S&P, as the homebuilder's shares dropped 8.6% to $19.38 after it reported lower-than-anticipated home orders on pressure from rising mortgage rates.

ONEOK ( OKE) surged to the top of S&P gainers on Thursday as shares popped 26% to $53.77 after the energy company said its board has authorized management to pursue a plan to separate the company's natural gas distribution business into a standalone publicly traded company.

TripAdvisor ( TRIP) was the second largest percentage gainer in the S&P, jumping 16% to $71.10 after the hotel-reviews site booked second-quarter earnings surpassed expectations on higher advertising clicks.

Signs of a strengthening U.S. economy could be found in a report that showed durable goods orders rose by a greater-than-expected 4.2% in June, after increasing by an upwardly revised 5.2% in May, according to the Census Bureau. Economists were forecasting a 1.3% rise.

Meanwhile initial jobless claims increased by 7,000 to a higher than expected 343,000 in the week ended July 20, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists on average were expected a gain to 340,000. However, the four-week moving average, which irons out week-to-week volatility, decreased 1,250 to 345,250.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 4/32, diluting the yield to 2.577%.

Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.>

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