After Market: Stocks Rise, S&P 500 Sets Another Record

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Stocks posted solid gains on Thursday as investors ignored a weak economic report.

First quarter gross domestic product was revised to show the economy contracted 1 percent in the first three months of the year. But investors say that's old news. The horrible winter weather was a huge drag on growth, and economists say there's no chance that we're heading into another recession. In fact, most economists expect solid growth in the current quarter.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 65 points, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 22, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 10 points, scoring its third record high in four days.

Earlier this month Hillshire Brands (HSH) offered to buy Pinnacle Foods (PF). Then two days ago, Pilgrims Pride (PPC) jumped in to break up that deal with a $6.4 billion bid for Hillshire. Now, Tyson Foods (TSN) has started a bidding war with a $6.8 billion offer for Hillshire, which is best known for its Jimmy Dean and Hillshire brands.

Shares of Hillshire jumped 17 percent today. They've soared 45 percent in the past week. As for the other players in this food fight: Tyson gained 6 percent, Pilgrims Pride fell 1 percent, and Pinnacle gained 1 percent.

Moving from what we eat to what we wear, Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) jumped nearly 6 percent as its quarterly loss wasn't as bad as expected. But the stock is still down about 26 percent from a year ago.

Other movers:
  • Costco (COST) was little changed even though earnings came in slightly below expectations.
  • Michael Kors (KORS) fell 5 percent on new worries that its profit margins may weaken.
  • Tilly's (TLYS) tumbled 17 percent on a weak outlook for the current quarter.
Elsewhere, cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks (PANW) rose 5 percent after beating expectations. In addition, it will receive $175 million from Juniper Networks (JNPR) in a settlement of a patent suit.

Finally, J.P. Morgan (JPM) is swapping its ratings on a pair of leading biotech stocks. It raised the rating on Biogen Idec (BIIB) to "overweight," lifting the stock by 3.5 percent, but cut Celgene (CELG) to "neutral." Celgene fell by less than 1 percent.

What to Watch Friday:
  • The Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for April at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The Institute For Supply Management-Chicago releases its survey of business conditions in the Chicago area for May at 9:45 a.m.
  • The University of Michigan releases its final survey of consumer sentiment for May at 9:55 a.m.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:
  • Ann Inc. (ANN)
  • Big Lots (BIG)
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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