Stocks Hit New Highs, S&P 500 Above 1,700

U.S. stocks jumped on Thursday, pushing the S&P 500 above 1,700 for the first time, after data showed jobless claims falling to a five-year low and a manufacturing index surging to a two-year high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 128.48
points, or 0.83%, to 15,628.02. The S&P 500 climbed 21.14 points, or 1.25%, to 1,706.87. The Nasdaq Composite rose 49.37 points, or 1.36%, to 3,675.74.

The number of people who applied last week for new unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since early 2008. Initial jobless claims dropped by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000 in the week ended July 27, marking the lowest level in five and a half years, the government said Thursday.

The pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector accelerated in July to the highest level in two years as new orders surged, according to a new industry report, while a separate report showed that spending unexpectedly fell in
June. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity rose to 55.4 from 50.9 in June, topping expectations for 52.

LinkedIn Corp (LNKD) reported revenue of $363.7 million in second quarter, a 59 percent jump, after its membership numbers continued to soar after several quarters of slowing growth. The San Francisco company, one of the few social media stocks that have fulfilled its hype since going public, now boasts 238 million users, a 37 percent increase from a year ago.

Activist investor Carl Icahn sued Dell Inc and its board on Thursday, his latest attempt to derail a $24.4 billion buyout bid by the computer maker’s founder and CEO Michael Dell.

Auto sales to individual U.S. consumers beat expectations in July and major automakers reported low inventories for many hot- selling models, such as Ford Motor Co’s Fusion mid-size sedan, suggesting sales would strengthen further this year.

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