Markets Open Higher; Brinker Profit Misses Estimates

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Following the market opening Thursday, the Dow traded up 0.25 percent to 16,483.61 while the NASDAQ surged 0.41 percent to 4,372.93. The S&P also rose, gaining 0.29 percent to 1,925.74.

Leading and Lagging Sectors

Utilities shares surged around 0.87 percent in today’s trading. Meanwhile, top gainers in the sector included Wisconsin Energy (NYSE: WEC), up 2.4 percent, and Regency Energy Partners LP NYSE: (RGP), up 2.1 percent.

In trading on Thursday, healthcare shares were relative laggards, down on the day by about 0.36 percent. Meanwhile, top decliners in the sector included Thoratec (NASDAQ: THOR), down 27.5 percent, and PhotoMedex (NASDAQ: PHMD), off 16.8 percent.

Top Headline

Brinker International (NYSE: EAT) reported a drop in its fourth-quarter profit.

The Dallas, Texas-based company posted a quarterly profit of $28.8 million, or $0.43 per share, versus a year-ago profit of $46.4 million, or $0.64 per share. Excluding items, its earnings climbed 10.4% to $0.85 per share from $0.77 per share.

Its total revenue gained 3.9% to $758.7 million. However, analysts were expecting earnings of $0.86 per share on revenue of $749.7 million.

Equities Trading UP

Lehigh Gas Partners LP (NYSE: LGP) shares shot up 26.30 percent to $32.81 after CST Brands (NYSE: CST) announced its plans to acquire Lehigh Gas GP LLC, the general partner of Lehigh Gas Partners LP. Lehigh Gas Partners also reported its financial results for the second quarter.

Shares of Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA) got a boost, shooting up 7.33 percent to $34.70 after the company reported upbeat fourth-quarter results. Cowen & Company upgraded 21st Century Fox from Underperform to Market Perform and raised the price target from $29.00 to $35.00.

Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) shares were also up, gaining 15.18 percent to $113.92 after the company reported better-than-expected quarterly results and lifted its forecast.

Equities Trading DOWN

Shares of Thoratec (NASDAQ: THOR) were down 26.93 percent to $23.80 after the company reported downbeat second-quarter sales and issued a disappointing 2014 earnings outlook.

Atmel (NASDAQ: ATML) shares tumbled 8.02 percent to $7.91 after the company reported in-line Q2 earnings. Bank of America downgraded Atmel from Buy to Neutral.

Melco Crown Entertainment (NASDAQ: MPEL) was down, falling 3.25 percent to $29.04 after the company reported downbeat quarterly results.

Commodities

In commodity news, oil traded up 0.06 percent to $96.98, while gold traded down 0.19 percent to $1,305.70.

Silver traded down 0.34 percent Thursday to $19.96, while copper rose 0.22 percent to $3.17.

Eurozone

European shares were mostly lower today. The eurozone’s STOXX 600 fell 0.03 percent, the Spanish Ibex Index dropped 0.71 percent, while Italy’s FTSE MIB Index tumbled 0.12 percent. Meanwhile, the German DAX rose 0.01 percent and the French CAC 40 declined 0.30 percent while UK shares dipped 0.01 percent.

Economics

US initial jobless claims declined 14,000 to 289,000 in the week ended August 2. However, economists were expecting claims to reach 304,000 in the week.

The Treasury is set to auction 3-and 6-month bills.

Data on consumer credit for June will be released at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Data on money supply will be released at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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