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Stocks Hit New Highs Ahead of Jobs Report

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks rallied about 1% across ahead of tomorrow's July jobs report from the Labor Department. The Dow and S&P 500 both set new intraday and closing highs. Stocks were buoyed by strong economic data out this morning, starting with weekly jobless claims. The figure was the lowest in nearly six years at 326,000 new claims. That was a drop of 19,000 from last week, and well below estimates for this week, which hovered around 345,000 new claims. The Institute for Supply Management provided other good news on the economy. It showed the pace of growth in U.S. manufacturing accelerated last month to the highest level in two years.

Yelp (YELP) spiked over 20% following the release of its quarterly results after yesterday's closing bell. The company posted losses of a penny a share, but expectations had been for a loss of 4-cents. As for revenue, it was nearly 4% above consensus at $55 million. Key here: Yelp's mobile ad revenue is growing fast. It now stands at 40% of total ads, close to the number Facebook reported last week. Yelp also says its number of monthly users is up 38%. Shares had already ascended 112% year-to-date prior to today's climb.

Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer (SAM) rose 14% on its earnings which were also released after yesterday's closing bell. The company beat estimates by a dime posting profits of $1.45 a share. Revenue jumped 23% to $181.3 million when estimates were for $175.4 million. The company pointed to an increase in marketing for the increase in sales and upped its full-year outlook. Prior to today's jump, shares were 28% year-to-date.

J. C. Penney (JCP) pared early gains to close flat after the company refuted claims of a credit crunch. Shares plunged more than 10% late yesterday on a report in the New York Post which said lender CIT was no longer giving money to Penney's clothing suppliers. This morning, however, Penney execs said they had spoken to CIT and were assured the report was untrue. The chain's next big test will be its tug of war with Macy's (M) over who can sell Martha Stewart merchandise.

Two Dow components reported earnings ahead of the opening bell. Exxon Mobil (XOM) shares fell over 1% after a surprising earnings miss. The company posted profits of $1.55 a share when expectations were for $1.90. Revenue actually beat by $1 billion, coming in at $106.5 billion. Net income for the quarter was down 57% from a year ago. The company pins the decline on asset sales and tax breaks in the earlier period. The other Dow component, Proctor and Gamble (PG) rose over 1% after beating the street with profits of 79-cents a share when expectations were for 77-cents. The company had sales of $20.7 billion, slightly above estimates of $20.554 billion.

DirecTV (DTV) fell 2% after missing earnings estimates for the quarter posting profits of $1.18 a share when estimates were for $1.33. Revenue also came in under expectations at $7.7 billion when estimates were for $7.75 billion. The company says it lost more U.S. subscribers than expected. It also gained fewer new customers in Latin America that predicted.

Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable (TWC) moved 3% higher despite a slight miss on earnings. The company posted quarterly net income of $1.64 a share when consensus was for $1.65. Revenue was also about $30 million under estimates at $5.55 billion fir the quarter.

Sony (SNE) gained 4% on its earnings. The electronics and entertainment giant impressed investors by swinging back into the black for the quarter. It was helped largely by the falling yen. Even the company's ailing television business was able to post a profit for the first time in three years. Activist investor Daniel Loeb has been calling for Sony to split its electronics business from its entertainment division.