U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday, driven by gains in the healthcare and telecommunications sectors. Strong retail sales data helped offset concerns about Greece’s ongoing debt crisis after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that bailout discussions with Athens had stalled.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gained 38.97 points, or 0.22 percent, to close at 18,039.37. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) added 3.66 points, or 0.17 percent, to end at 2,108.86. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 5.82 points, or 0.11 percent, to finish at 5,082.51.
Dow components UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) led the index higher Thursday, gaining more than 1 percent. Property and casualty insurer Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE:TRV) and aerospace giant Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) both rose nearly 1 percent.
U.S. stocks traded higher in morning trading after U.S. retail sales rebounded in May, the latest sign of an uptick in economic growth following a sluggish winter.
Meanwhile, the IMF announced that bailout talks with Greece had halted Thursday, putting Athens at risk of default as the country’s bailout program expires on June 30.
Economists are looking ahead to Friday’s economic calendar, which includes the U.S. Department of Labor’s Producer Price Index for May, released at 8:30 a.m. EDT, followed by the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment report for June, due out at 10 a.m. EDT.
U.S. producer prices, which measure U.S. wholesale prices, declined a seasonally adjusted 0. 4 percent in April from March, down in five of the prior six months. The measure is used as an inflation gauge.
The Federal Reserve is closely tracking inflation as it considers whether to raise interest rates this year from near zero, where they have held since December 2008. The central bank’s preferred inflation gauge, the price index for personal consumption expenditures, has remained below the central bank’s 2 percent target for more than 30 consecutive months.
Economists forecast the PPI will rise 0.4 in May after falling 0.4 in April, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
U.S. consumer optimism declined forecasts last month as Americans adopted “more modest prospects for a rebound” in the U.S. economy following the dismal first quarter, Richard Curtin, chief economist at Surveys of Consumers, said in the report in May.
The preliminary reading of the Consumer Sentiment Index, which is released twice a month, is forecast to rise to 91.5 in June after hitting a final reading of 90.7 in May, according to Reuters’ data.