Stocks Pop Despite Nasdaq Shock

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks closed in positive territory Thursday during a session interrupted by a three-hour halt in trading on the Nasdaq due to a technical glitch.

The Nasdaq added 1.08% to 3,638.71, after trades came back online at 3:25 p.m. EDT. Apple ( AAPL), the most heavily traded company on the tech-heavy index, closed trading in positive territory as it reversed losses incurred before the halt. The S&P 500 rose 0.86% to 1,656.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.44% to 14,963.74.

Major U.S. indices shrugged off the malfunction in light of strong economic data that printed overseas.

The Nasdaq put a halt to trading in all stocks and options listed on the Exchange due to technical glitches that were interfering with quote dissemination, it said. It was one of the longest shutdowns of the Nasdaq since a stray squirrel in December 1987 triggered an 82-minute power failure of the exchange.

"It happens, this obviously was halted for a long time," said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial. Krosby said stocks closed higher due to "the package of better-than-expected global data this morning."

The energy and basic materials sectors led the broad market gains amid signs that manufacturing activity was heating up in China and Europe. Energy was rising 1.18% and basic materials was ahead by 1.7%. Within these sectors, Cliffs Natural Resources ( CLF ) popped 5.8% to $22.44; Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold ( FCX ) increased 3.3% to $31.35; and Peabody Energy ( BTU ) jumped 6.2% to $17.62.

Overnight the flash reading of China's HSBC manufacturing PMI surprisingly showed a recovery to above 50 in August, signaling a significant rebound in growth during the summer quarter.

Meanwhile, the Markit Eurozone PMI Composite Output Index signaled the largest monthly increase in business activity for over two years in August, according to a flash estimate. The PMI rose for the fifth successive month to 51.7, the highest level since June 2011, and up from 50.5 in July.

The financial information services company also reported that German private sector business activity continued to rise in August, extending the current period of expansion to four months. This was highlighted by the seasonally adjusted Markit Flash Germany Composite Output Index posting 53.4 in August, up from 52.1 the previous month and above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction.

"The uptrend in global manufacturing confidence, apparent since April, looks set to have continued up to August, and even could intensify, based on today's 'flash' PMI data for August," Julian Callow, a London-based economist at Barclays, wrote in a report.

The positive global manufacturing headlines were offsetting a rise in weekly initial jobless claims in the U.S.. Initial jobless claims increased by 13,000 to a greater-than-expected 336,000 in the week ended Aug. 17 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 323,000. Economists, on average, were expecting jobless claims of 330,000. However, the four-week moving average that irons out week-to-week volatility came in at 330,500, a decrease of 2,250.

The report also said continuing claims for the week ended Aug. 10 increased by 29,000 to 2.999 million, vs. the average estimate of 2.96 million.

In company news, GameStop ( GME) was the top climber in the S&P, surging 9% to $51.91 after the leading video game products retailer hiked its full-year earnings per share guidance to a range of $3 to $3.20 from the previous estimate of $2.90 to $3.15 based on positive trends in new console pre-orders.

Teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch ( ANF) was the worst percentage performer on the S&P after posting weak second-quarter earnings and lowering its outlook for the rest of 2013. The company forecast diluted earnings of 40 to 45 cents a share. Wall Street has estimated $1.06 a share. Shares plummeted 17.7% to $38.53

Wells Fargo ( WFC) is set to eliminate 2,300 jobs in mortgage production, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The bank is cutting the jobs because demand for refinancings has slumped and probably will drop even more as interest rates rise, Bloomberg noted. Shares added 0.28% to $42.48

In more economic news, house prices rose 7.2% in the second quarter from the same time last year, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The FHFA's seasonally adjusted monthly house price index for June was up 0.7% from May. Price increases are expected to lose steam though as borrowing costs continue to rise.

Also, the Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.6% in July to 96, following no change in June. Economists were expecting a 0.5% gain.

The annual meeting of central bank officials in Jackson Hole, Wyo., began Thursday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other major world central bank heads were not expected to attend the meeting.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was little changed, yielding 2.896%.

December gold futures rose 70 cents to settle at $1,370.80 an ounce and October crude oil futures closed up $1.18 at $105.03 a barrel.

-- 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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