The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 27 points to close at 15,498, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) inched up 6 points to 1,697 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) added 15 points to 3,669.
Tech stocks were also prominent among the gainers, with Dow-component Microsoft (MSFT) gaining 2.6 percent to $32.89 on heavy volume. But it was an off day for telecommunications stocks. AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) each fell by a fraction of a percent. Dish Networks (DISH) slid almost a percent after the satellite TV provider reported a surprise loss Tuesday.
Groupon (GRPN) soared almost 22 percent to $10.60 after it reported slightly better second-quarter results than analysts expected late Wednesday. It also named its co-founder Eric Lefkofsky as CEO (see video below). Groupon also said it plans to buy $300 million of its own stock during the next two years. The stock has gained more than 90 percent in the past three months.
Tesla Motors (TLSA) jumped 14 percent to $153.46 following news that the maker of electric cars had paid off a loan from the Department of Energy nine years early and blew past Wall Street estimates for its most recent quarter. Revenue soared thanks to stronger sales of its Model S.
J.C. Penney has started looking for a new chief executive officer to replace Myron Ullman, and top investor Bill Ackman has pushed the board to have one named within 30 to 45 days, according to CNBC. Ackman, frustrated by the pace of the CEO search, also said former Penney CEO Allen Questrom had conditionally agreed to rejoin the company as its chairman. Shares of J.C. Penney (JCP) jumped 6.8 percent to $13.67 following CNBC's report.
In economic news, the Labor Department reported that initial claims for jobless benefits rose to 333,000 in the most recent week. But the four-week average of claims, viewed as a better gauge of labor market activity, fell to its lowest level since 2007, before the start of the Great Recession.
The average rate on the 30-year loan edged up to 4.40 percent from 4.39 percent last week, according to mortgage-buyer Freddie Mac. The rate is a full percentage point higher than in early May, when rates neared record lows. But rates remain low by historical standards.
More Stocks in the News:
- JPMorgan Chase (JPM) slipped 0.9 percent to $54.81, after the bank said it's facing a criminal investigation tied to mortgage-backed bonds.
- Mondelez International (MDLZ), the maker of Oreo cookies and a stable of former Kraft Foods brands, turned in better quarterly results than analysts expected late Wednesday. The company also announced plans to spend another $5 billion on buying its own stock. Mondelez International gained 4.6 percent to $32.70.
- AMC Networks (AMCX) shares fell $4.25 to $66.90, after it reported quarterly earnings that fell short of Wall Street expectations. Excluding one-time items, the company, best known for its shows "Mad Men," ''The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad," earned 74 cents a share, four cents below the average estimate of analysts surveyed by FactSet. Revenue rose 16 percent to $379.3 million.
- Shares of Visteon (VC) rose 3.3 percent to $67.00 after the auto-parts supplier posted second-quarter net income that fell 13 percent, but soundly beat Wall Street predictions.
- The Commerce Department releases wholesale trade inventories for June at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
- Progenics Pharmaceuticals (PGNX) reports corporate quarterly earnings.