Stocks Gain After GDP

Morningstar

U.S. Market
Stocks were higher at midday following the final third-quarter estimate for U.S. gross domestic product.

The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy expanded at a 4.1% annual rate in the third quarter, up from the previous estimate of 3.6%. Economists had forecast the rate to remain flat. It was the best rate in nearly two years. Increased consumer spending led the way as revised data showed an uptick among retail sales. Export growth also saw an upward revision compared with previous estimates. The latest data is a positive sign for future economic growth in 2014, though many economists forecast fourth-quarter GDP to be more than a full percentage point lower in terms of growth compared with the final third-quarter tally.

The Dow was 0.5% higher at midday. The S&P 500 was up by 0.6%, and the Nasdaq had gained 1.0%.

Stocks on the Move
Walgreen (WAG) posted first-quarter net income of $695 million, compared with $413 million the same time last year. Net revenue rose to $18.33 billion from $17.32 billion, falling just short of Wall Street expectations. Adjusted earnings per share came in line with Street forecasts. Morningstar analysts say the efficiency and pricing leverage gained through cost controls and partnerships are necessary given the firm's historically weaker position along the pharmaceutical supply chain in relation to manufacturers and payers. Shares were 2.2% higher at midday.

After Thursday's closing bell, Nike (NKE) reported a second-quarter profit of $537 million versus $384 million from the same time last year. Sales improved to $6.43 billion from $5.96 billion, and each reading was near Street expectations, though net income was lower. Morningstar analysts continue to have a positive view of Nike's competitive position, long-run growth potential, and ability to continue to deliver innovation. Shares, however, were down by 1.9% at midday.

CarMax (KMX) shares had plummeted by 8.5% at midday after the firm reported earnings per share that fell short of Street forecasts, despite a gradual year-over-year increase. Revenue rose to $2.94 billion, beating Street expectations.

Foreign Markets
European stocks shook off Standard & Poor's downgrade of the European Union's credit rating and finished higher. The FTSE 100 rose 0.3%. The Paris CAC gained 0.4%, and the DAX increased by 0.7%.

Stocks in Asia were mixed. The Shanghai Composite fell 2.0%, and the Hang Seng lost 0.3%. The Nikkei 225 eked out a 0.1% gain.

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