Stocks rose on Thursday on brighter outlooks from Texas Instruments and Procter & Gamble that prompted investors to push market gains into a fifth straight session.
Procter & Gamble Co
The potential for rising sales was encouraging for investors, who fear anemic consumer spending could stall a burgeoning recovery.
Optimism was tempered by a 5.4 percent drop for Monsanto
Investors are waiting for an assessment on what type of recovery it is, said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc in Toledo, Ohio.
I do think if the market continues its rally into the fourth quarter, that we're borrowing gains from 2010 from the standpoint it will be reflecting a v-shaped recovery, and any disappointment there will hurt.
If the gains hold, it would mean a fifth day of advances that would push the S&P 500 index to its highest level in nearly a year.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 25.24 points, or 0.26 percent, to 9,572.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 2.88 points, or 0.28 percent, to 1,036.25. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 7.84 points, or 0.38 percent, to 2,068.23.
Health insurance stocks <.HMO> rose 1.5 percent after President Barack Obama played down the importance of a government-run option in a speech on Wednesday, a sign elements of the plan may be altered to soothe opponents. Critics say reforms will be expensive and could distort the existing market.
Cheaper, watered-down U.S. healthcare reform could help provide the next leg up for equity markets, said Linda Duessel, market strategist at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh.
It will be very expensive as it stands right now, said Duessel. To the extent that it comes down a little bit, the market should like that. If for whatever reason they wouldn't be able to come up with any conclusion here and it fails, the market might really like that.
Bellwether Texas Instruments raised its third-quarter forecast after the bell Wednesday, expecting to ride a gradual recovery in the global semiconductor industry. The stock added 0.5 percent to $25.27, while semiconductor shares <.SOXX> gained 0.7 percent.
Data on Thursday showed initial and continued jobless claims fell last week, according to a government report. High unemployment is one of the biggest concerns as the economy attempts to pull out of recession.
(Additional reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)