U.S. Stocks Strengthen Prior to Economic Growth, Jobs Reports

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks closed higher Wednesday amid excitement over Twitter's pending debut and expectations that economic growth data and a crucial jobs reports due later this week will bolster Federal Reserve plans to sustain current levels of stimulus.

The S&P 500 rose 0.43% to close 1,770.49 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a new record high after rising 0.82% to finish the trading day at 15,746.88. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, slipped 0.2% to 3,931.95.          

"What we've been seeing is very, very little intra-day movement; so where the market's opening, it's kind of closing," Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners, said in a phone interview. "I think that the ECB policy statement and October jobs report are the big pieces of news of the week but they have to be pretty bad to shake this market."

Twitter, the hugely-popular social media platform is expected to price Wednesday afternoon prior to shares being traded Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter's initial public offering is the most anticipated tech stock event since Facebook (FB) went public in May. Twitter raised the pricing on its IPO to between $23 to $25 a share on Monday amid speculation that pricing could move even higher.

U.S. stocks were bolstered earlier in the day as sluggish economic data out of Europe increased bets that the European Central Bank will provide further easing measures. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.53% to reach its highest level since May 2008 as companies including Vestas Wind Systems and ING Groep ING boosted full-year profit forecasts and beat on earnings. 

Ensco (ESV) shares jumped 4.4% to close $59.55 after the offshore drilling contractor announced that it's increasing its cash dividend by 50% to $3 a share annually. "Our strong balance sheet, $11 billion in contracted revenue backlog and positive outlook for future earnings and cash flow growth support this increase to our quarterly cash dividend," CEO Dan Rabun said in a statement.

Ralph Lauren (RL) rose 5.5% to $180.52 after the apparel maker announced a 12.5% increase in its quarterly cash dividend to 45 cents a share and said that it is raising its fiscal 2014 revenue outlook to 5% to 7% growth, which is toward the high end of the previous 4% to 7% range, "as a result of encouraging current trends." The company expects revenues to increase by 8% to 10% in the third quarter.

CBS (CBS) was falling in after-market trading after the most-watch U.S. television network posted profits for the third quarter that met analyst expectations. Income from continuing operations totaled $469 million, or 76 cents a share, even with the average forecast of 25 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Revenue grew 11% in the quarter to $3.63 billion, outpacing the average forecast of $3.53 billion. Shares were falling 1.8% to $58.55 at 4:45pm New York time.

Time Warner (TWX) slipped 0.79% to $67.69 as the owner of HBO and TBS posted third-quarter profit that beat analysts' expectations as advertising and subscriber fees grew more than expected.

Tesla Motors' (TSLA) earnings report didn't quite live up to Wall Street's expectations though as concerns rose over deliveries of Model S units for this quarter and the next as well. Tesla shares plunged 14.5% to $151.16 in the Nasdaq.

A GDP report Thursday is expected to show the U.S. economy grew 2% annualized in the third quarter, down from 2.5% in the prior three months. Payroll figures on Friday are expected to rise by 120,000 in October, with the jobless rate increasing to 7.3% from 7.2%.

10-year U.S. Treasuries were rising 8/32, diluting the yield to 2.648%.

-- By Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

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