Stocks Rise In Choppy Session; Nasdaq Snaps Losing Streak

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.

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