Markets Advance On Drop In Jobless Claims

The markets advanced during the midday with the Dow gaining 64 points to 14,519 as first time applications for unemployment benefits fell. Nasdaq climbed 11 points to 3256.

On the upside

Private investment firm Tracinda, which already owns an 18.6% stake in MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM), may increase its holdings to 25%.

Flotek Industries (NYSE: FTK) announced a letter of intent to jointly build a chemistry production facility and a research and development laboratory with Gulf Energy in Sultanate of Oman.

A Seeking Alpha contributor wrote that Ultra Petroleum (NYSE: UPL) was undervalued.

On the downside

Vera Bradley (Nasdaq: VRA) reported higher fourth quarter earnings but the accessories retailer forecast current quarter results well below analyst expectations.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF) will temporarily stop production at its Wabush Pointe Noire pellet plant in order to save money.

Analysts expect LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK) to post a loss for the fourth quarter on sharply lower revenue.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of more than 5 to 3 on the NYSE and by nearly 3 to 2 on Nasdaq. The broader S&P 500 index gained 6 points to 1560.

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