By Vincent Mao, Investor’s Business Daily
Stocks closed modestly higher in thin, choppy trading Thursday ahead of Friday’s jobs report.
The Nasdaq scored its gain in five sessions, rising 0.5%. Its gain was boosted by Apple (AAPL), which staged an upside reversal. The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 rose 0.3% each. Volume dropped off on both major exchanges, according to unconfirmed data.
Lululemon Athletica (LULU) ramped up 7% and regained its 50-day line in a wild session. Before the open, the yoga apparel and accessories retailer reported quarterly earnings that rose 44% to 39 cents a share, beating views by 2 cents. Sales rose 37% to $316.5 million, above forecasts of $305.3 million. But Lululemon guided Q4 revenue and earnings below views.
NCR (NCR) rose 4% and cleared a 24.74 buy point in an awkward double-bottom base. Volume ended 74% above average and marked the busiest session in over a month. Prior to Thursday’s pop, the stock had been trading in a tight range. NCR, which makes ATMs and point-of-sale systems, recently announced plans to buy Israeli software firm Retalix to expand into the retail industry.
Qihoo 360 Technology (QIHU) rose nearly 3% and bounced back from two days of big losses. But shares had been up as much as 5% intraday. Still, the stock is back above a 24.40 buy point from a cup-with-handle base. Qihoo was up as much as 15% past that buy point Monday.
Ascena Retail Group (ASNA) slumped 4% to its lowest closing low in more than four months. Late Wednesday, the apparel retailer said fiscal Q1 earnings rose 18% to 39 cents a share, beating views by a nickel. Thanks to buyouts, sales surged 48% to $1.14 billion, a hair shy of analysts’ views. Ascena reaffirmed its full-year profit forecast of $1.45 to $1.55 a share vs. analysts’ views of $1.56 a share. The stock is in a big cup-with-handle with a 22.28 buy point.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment index for December will also be out Friday in addition to the November jobs report.