Stocks rise on manufacturing, housing reports

A gauge of pending home sales jumps more than predicted. First-time unemployment claims rise, but the 4-week average falls to a 3-year low. Midwest manufacturing activity declines less than forecast.

By TheStreet Staff on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 7:46 AM
By Kaitlyn Kiernan

Updated at 10:50 a.m. ET

U.S. stocks were rising Thursday after better-than-expected​ reports on manufacturing and housing boosted sentiment on Wall Street heading into the final days of trading in 2011.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU +0.71%) was up 97 points, or 0.8%, to 12,248. The S&P 500 ($INX +0.69%) was up 9.9 points, or 0.8%, at 1,260, and the Nasdaq ($COMPX +0.54%) was rising 15 points, or 0.6%, to 2,604.

The National Association of Realtors said its pending home sales index, which measures the number of home sale contracts, jumped 7.3% to 100. 1 in November from a revised 93.3 in October. It’s the highest level since April 2010, when a tax credit deadline encouraged buyers to close deals. Economists had expected a 2% increase.

The Institute for Supply Management of Chicago said its Purchasing Managers Index, a measure of manufacturing activity in the Midwest, slid to 62.5 in December from the previous month’s 62.6. However, that was better than the 61 economists had expected.

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose after three weeks of declines. Initial jobless claims rose by 15,000 to 381,000 during the week ended Dec. 24 from a revised 366,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said. Economists had expected to see claims rise to 375,000 from the originally reported 364,000 the prior week, according to Thomson Reuters.

Despite the gain, the four-week moving average of claims declined by 5,750 to 375,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 380,750. That’s the lowest level since June 2008, according to Bloomberg.

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