NEW YORK – Positive news on the U.S. economy Thursday outweighed worries about Syria, sending the stock market higher for a second straight day.
The Dow Jones industrial average added 16.44 points, or 0.1 percent, to 14,840.95, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,638.17. The Nasdaq composite posted a bigger gain, rising 27 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,620.30.
The Dow has gained 64 points over the past two days, not nearly enough to make up for its 170-point loss Tuesday as tensions over Syria rattled markets.
Verizon Communications was the biggest gainer among the blue chips after Britain’s Vodafone confirmed it was in talks with Verizon to sell its 45 percent stake in their joint venture, Verizon Wireless.
Verizon rose $1.26, or 2.7 percent, to $47.82. The U.S.-listed shares of Vodafone rose $2.39, or 8.1 percent, to $31.80.
Wayne Wilbanks, chief investment officer at the asset management firm Wilbanks, Smith & Thomas, said the market might have fallen too quickly. He also cautioned that the gains from the last two days may not last.
“Be very careful,” Wilbanks said. “You haven’t missed out on much if you’ve sat on the sidelines since May”
Traders had two good economic reports to parse through Thursday. The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate from April through June, much faster than previously estimated, the government said. Also, the Labor Department said the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits last week fell to 331,000, the fewest in five years.
While lower unemployment claims and an upward revision on GDP are both positive signs, most of Wall Street’s attention is focused on next week, when the August jobs report will be released. The Federal Reserve is expected to decide the fate of its massive bond-buying program in mid-September, and the jobs survey will be the last bit of significant economic data the Fed will have to consider before making its decision.