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Midway through trading Thursday, the Dow traded up 0.27 percent to 14,335.42 while the NASDAQ rose 0.15 percent to 3,227.36. The S&P also rose, gaining 0.17 percent to 1,544.15.

Index Technicals:
The S&P seems set to advance higher today, creating an intra-day channel between 1,538 and 1,545.

The Dow looks to be forming a bullish MACD cross with 14,320 intra-day resistance, with a MACD cross on its daily chart.

The Russell seems to be stalling today at 931, slightly under its 932 resistance and looks set for a bullish MACD cross on its daily chart.

Finally, the NASDAQ looks to be holding at breakout over 3,197 and over its 3,200 intraday resistance.

Top Headline
Smithfield Foods (NYSE: SFD) reported better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings.

Smithfield's quarterly profit climbed to $81.5 million, or $0.58 per share, from $79 million, or $0.49 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Its sales rose 3% to $3.58 billion. However, analysts were expecting earnings of $0.50 per share on sales of $3.53 billion. Its gross margin declined to 9.2% from 10.9%, while total pork sales rose 0.3%.

Equities Trading UP
Ciena (NASDAQ: CIEN) shot up 15.13 percent to $17.20 after the company reported a surprise per-share profit in the fiscal first quarter.

Shares of Hot Topic (NASDAQ: HOTT) got a boost, shooting up 29.07 percent to $13.88 after Sycamore Partners announced its plans to acquire Hot Topic for $600 million.

Navistar International (NYSE: NAV) was also up, gaining 25.84 percent to $31.41 after the company reported upbeat Q1 profit.

Equities Trading DOWN
MGIC Investment (NYSE: MTG) shares tumbled 9.27 percent to $5.09 after the company priced 135 million shares of its common stock at a price of $5.15 per share.

SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) was also down, falling 14.06 percent to $16.56 after the company posted a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss.

Shares of PetSmart (NASDAQ: PETM) were down 7.53 percent to $61.54 after the company issued a weak 2013 forecast.

Commodities
In commodity news, oil traded up 0.85 percent to $91.20, while gold traded up 0.13 percent to $1,576.90.

Silver traded up 0.13 percent Thursday to $28.84, while copper rose 0.80 percent to $3.52.

Eurozone
European shares were mostly higher today. The ECB left interest rates unchanged at 0.75%.

The Spanish Ibex Index climbed 0.36 percent and the Italian FTSE MIB Index gained 0.30 percent. The STOXX Europe 600 Index fell 0.06 percent, London's FTSE 100 Index rose 0.18 percent, French CAC 40 Index surged 0.53 percent and German DAX 30 index gained 0.26 percent.

Economics Initial jobless claims declined 7,000 to 340,000 in the week ended March 3. However, economists were expecting claims to increase to 353,000.

US worker productivity contracted at an annual rate of 1.9% in the fourth quarter, versus 2.0% in its preliminary estimate.

US trade gap widened $6.3 billion to $44.4 billion in January, versus a $10.1 billion drop in the previous month. However, economists were expecting the trade deficit to widen to $42.4 billion in January.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to minus 32.4 in the latest week ended March 3, versus minus 32.8 in the previous period.

Natural gas supplies declined 146 billion cubic feet for the week ended March 1, the Energy Information Administration said. However, economists were expecting a fall between 130 billion and 134 billion cubic feet.

Posted-In: Earnings News Guidance Commodities Global Econ #s Economics Hot Best of Benzinga

 

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