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Thursday's Market Wrap: Stocks Close Modestly Higher, Markets Remain Quiet

Thursday's Market Wrap: Stocks Close Modestly Higher, Markets Remain Quiet - Chesapeake Energy Corporation NYSE:CHK, Corrections Corporation of America NYSE:CXW

The U.S. stock market was little changed on Thursday, although all three major averages did finish in positive territory. Despite the fact that stocks are sitting near all-time highs, day-to-day trading has been mostly quiet in recent weeks as much of Wall Street is on vacation.

Gainers on the session included NetApp Inc. NTAP 17.44%, which climbed more than 17 percent after a strong earnings report, and Chesapeake Energy Corporation CHK 9.15%, which added more than 9 percent on the day.

A number of private prison companies were crushed on the day on news that the federal government plans to end its use of privately run prisons. The GEO Group Inc GEO 39.58% plunged almost 40 percent and Corrections Corp of America CXW 35.45% lost more than 35 percent.

Major Averages

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 24 points, or 0.13 percent, to 18,598.

The S&P 500 climbed 5 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,187.

The Nasdaq added a little better than 11 points, or 0.22 percent, to 5,240.

Initial Jobless Claims

Initial jobless claims for the week of August 13 were 262,000 which was less than consensus estimates of 265,000 and down from the prior number of 266,000.

Continuing Claims

Continuing jobless claims for the week of August 6 were 2.175 million which compared to 2.160 million in the prior period.

Commodities

The commodity complex was higher on Thursday on the back of energy gains. The Bloomberg Commodity Index added 1.01 percent on the session.

NYMEX crude oil futures climbed 3.27 percent to $48.32 while Brent contracts added 2.07 percent to $50.88. Natural gas futures rose around 2 percent to $2.67.

Precious metals traded up on Thursday. COMEX gold futures were up 0.63 percent to $1,357.30. The SPDR Gold Trust ETF GLD 0.47% climbed 0.47 percent to $129.12. Silver futures added 0.44 percent to $19.74. The iShares Silver Trust ETF SLV 0.48% rose 0.48 percent to $18.77.

In the grains complex, corn and wheat were both higher during Thursday's trading session. Corn futures rose 0.66 percent to $3.4200 while wheat futures added 0.28 percent to $4.4425 per bushel.

Bonds

Treasury prices were slightly higher on Thursday. At the close of equity trading, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF TLT 0.16% was up 0.16 percent to $139.44.

Treasury yields were as follows on Thursday afternoon: The yield on the 2-Year Note was 0.74 percent. The 5-Year Note was yielding 1.15 percent. The 10-Year Note was last yielding 1.56 percent while the 30-Year Bond yield was 2.27 percent.

Currencies

The U.S. Dollar was significantly lower on Thursday. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF UUP 0.73%, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, traded down 0.73 percent to $24.33. The closely watched EUR/USD pair rose 0.58 percent to 1.1355 euros.

Volatility and Volume

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) was lower on the session, falling more than 6 percent to 11.43. The 52-week range in the VIX is 11.02 to 53.29, so volatility levels remain near one-year lows.

Volume was light on Thursday as much of Wall Street remains on vacation. Around 48 million shares of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF SPY 0.22% trading hands versus a 3-month daily average of 91.5 million shares. Trading in the PowerShares QQQ Trust QQQ 0.03% was also well below average with just 9 million shares trading hands compared to a 3-month daily average of almost 23 million.

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