Stocks rise as investors assess earnings; Fox up

STEVE ROTHWELL AP Markets Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks gained Thursday as investors assessed the latest batch of company earnings reports. There was also encouraging news on hiring as the Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits is in decline.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 92 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,611 as of 1:12 p.m. Eastern time. The index is trading above its record close of 16,580, set April 30. The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed seven points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,885 and the Nasdaq composite index rose 25 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,093.

MORNING JOE: Keurig Green Mountain climbed $14.62, or 16 percent, to $106.89 after the company reported earnings that exceeded analysts' estimates. Keurig, known for its single-serve coffee brewing system, said late Wednesday that its net income climbed 22 percent in the fiscal second quarter.

SUPER BOWL BOOST: Twenty-First Century Fox rose $2.08, or 6.5 percent, to $34.20 after the company reported earnings that surpassed analysts' expectations. Fox's television unit got a boost from higher advertising revenue during the National Football League playoffs and the Super Bowl.

FORD BUYBACK: Ford gained 49 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $15.94 after the automaker said it will buy back up to $1.8 billion of its own stock. Ford says the buybacks will help offset potential dilution from convertible debt and stock-based compensation for employees.

DOW RECORD: After trading in the red for most of the year, the Dow Jones industrial average has pared its losses and is trading at record levels. The index of blue-chip stocks has gained as investors have sold small companies and growth-oriented technology stocks. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks small company stocks, is down 4.7 percent this year.

Investors typically buy companies with steady revenues that pay dividends when they are worried that the stock market is going to fall.

"The small stocks, the little names, clearly are cracking, whereas the defensive names, the higher-yielding names, are leading," said Ryan Detrick, a senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's investment research. "Historically, that's not a sign of a healthy market."

TECH BOUNCE: Some of the big losers in a recent sell-off in Internet names bounce back on Thursday. LinkedIn rose $2.18, or 3.1 percent, to $146.50. The stock is down 31 percent since the start of February. Twitter, which has endured a rough ride since surging on the first day of its initial public offering in November, rose $1.72, or 5.6 percent, to $32.37. The social media company's stock has plunged 50 percent since February.

CLAIMS FALL: The U.S. government reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 26,000 last week to 319,000, the latest sign that the job market is slowly improving. The drop follows two weeks of increases that reflected mostly temporary layoffs around the Easter holiday.

FRONTIER MARKETS: Vietnam's main stock market index fell 5.9 percent, its biggest one-day drop since 2001, on fears of a protracted stalemate or possible conflict with China over oil drilling in disputed South China Sea waters. China insisted Thursday it had every right to drill for oil off Vietnam's coast and warned its neighbor to leave the area around the deep-sea rig where Chinese and Vietnamese ships are engaged in a tense standoff.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged from 2.59 percent on Wednesday. The yield, which is used to set interest rates on loans including home mortgages, is near its lowest level of the year. The price of oil fell 68 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $100.11 a barrel.