NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The Nasdaq climbed on Thursday, led by a rally in Facebook a day after its earnings, but the broader market's advance was modest after another round of mixed earnings reports.
Facebook Inc shares scored their biggest daily percentage gain ever - soaring 31.6 per cent to a session high of $34.88 a day after the online social network company reported a huge jump in mobile advertising revenue. The stock closed at $34.36, up 29.6 per cent, and topped the Nasdaq's list of most actively traded names.
Disappointing earnings in the cyclical sector limited the gains in both the Dow and the S&P 500.
Caterpillar Inc was the biggest drag on the Dow, falling 1.6 per cent to $82.14. The stock slid for the second day, extending a selloff that began on Wednesday after the world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment cut its 2013 earnings forecast.
General Motors and Dow Chemical reported profits that exceeded expectations, but that was not enough to help the S&P 500 make a big push into positive territory. GM's stock fell 0.2 per cent to $37.08, after touching a two-year high of $37.70. Dow Chemical rose 1.8 per cent to $34.99.
Still, the market managed to advance slightly, with nine of the 10 S&P 500 industry sector indexes ending the day higher.
Material and utility shares were the best performers, after being among the weakest in Wednesday's session.
"The trend in the market is upward unless there's some active piece of bad news. No news is good news, in that sense," said Mr Brian Gendreau, market strategist with Cetera Financial Group in Gainesville, Florida.
"The earnings aren't really surprising anybody. The corporate sector is strong, and the earnings sector is still pretty strong."
Shortly after the bell, Starbucks released its third-quarter results and its stock jumped 6.8 per cent in extended-hours trading. Starbucks ended the regular session at $68.17, up 2.3 per cent.
Shares of Amazon.com Inc dropped 2.3 per cent in extended-hours trading after the world's largest Internet retailer reported second-quarter earnings and gave a cautious forecast for the third quarter. During regular trading, Amazon's stock rose 1.5 per cent to close at $303.40.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 13.37 points, or 0.09 per cent, to end at 15,555.61. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 4.31 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 1,690.25.
The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 25.59 points, or 0.71 per cent, to close at 3,605.19.
The major United States (US) stock indexes have advanced steadily this year. The S&P 500 has climbed 18.5 per cent in 2013 after hitting a number of record closing highs along the way. For July, the benchmark index has added 5.2 per cent.
With 47 per cent of the S&P 500 companies having reported earnings so far, about 68 per cent have topped profit forecasts, above the historical average of 63 per cent. About 56 per cent have reported better-than-expected revenue, a rate that is below the historical average.
TripAdvisor Inc shares vaulted 16.3 per cent to $71.10 a day after the company reported a jump in quarterly profit and revenue from its travel website. The stock was the S&P 500's second-biggest percentage gainer.
Natural gas processor Oneok Inc leaped 25.5 per cent to $53.77. The stock was the S&P 500's best performer on the day after the company said it would separate its gas distribution business into a standalone publicly traded company called ONE Gas Inc.
On the flip side, homebuilders' shares tumbled and weighed on the S&P 500 after Pulte Group and D.R. Horton reported earnings. Shares of Pulte Group sank 10.3 per cent to $16.55, while D.R. Horton's dropped 8.6 per cent to $19.38. An index of housing stocks fell 2.5 per cent.
In the latest economic snapshot, initial claims for US jobless benefits rose to 343,000 in the latest week from 334,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said. Economists were looking for a read of 340,000.
New orders for durable goods rose 4.2 per cent in June, far stronger than the forecast for a growth rate of 1.3 per cent.
About 6.4 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, on par with the daily average.
Advancers outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by a ratio of 17 to 13. On the Nasdaq, about two stocks rose for every one that fell.