(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) U.S. stocks closed near their highs of the day, with positive news of a Gaza ceasefire calming markets, along with some strong results from Salesforce.com which beat the street.
Egypt's foreign minister reportedly said a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas had been agreed to and would begin later in the day. In Cairo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the accord, according to media reports.
By the close the Dow Jones had rallied 49 points (0.38%) to 12,837, while the NASDAQ gained ten points (0.34%) to
U.S. Markets Closed Thursday; Thanksgiving
U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving Day holiday, and Friday's session will be an abbreviated one.
U.S. Economic News: Sandy distorts jobless claims
On the economic front, impact from Hurricane Sandy distorted weekly jobless claims figures, which have become impossible to read as a gauge for underlying employment.
Initial claims fell back 41,000 in the November 17 week to 410,000 with the prior week revised yet higher to 451,000. The consensus was for claims of 415,000. Market News International reports that the Labor Department has no handle on the magnitude or the duration of the storm effect.
The Labor Department warned that there may be excess claims due to the storm. Despite the latest decline, the four-week average is up 19,000 to 3.285 million.
Meanwhile, the final consumer sentiment November reading by the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters came in at 82.7 versus an initial "recovery best" reading of 84.9. The consensus estimate for the index was 84.0. The latest reading compares to 82.6 in October.
Weakness in today's report is concentrated in expectations, at 77.6 versus an initial 80.8, hinting at weakness in income expectations - not a good signal for the holiday season.
Separately, the Conference Board reported that the U.S. economy will likely continue to "modestly" expand through early 2013, with the index of leading economic indicators rising 0.2% in October.
U.S. Corporate News: Salesforce.com beats the street
In corporate news, business software provider Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) posted third-quarter earnings that beat Street estimates as it maintained its full-year earnings outlook.
Shares of Deere & Co. (NYSE:DE) fell 4% after the agriculture-equipment manufacturer reported earnings that came in shy of consensus estimates.
Zale Corp. (NYSE:ZLC) late Tuesday posted first quarter results that missed analyst expectations, sending its shares down over 28% on Wednesday.
Scholastic (NASDAQ:SCHL) shares also tumbled by around 18% after the educational services company lowered its financial forecast for the fiscal year ending May 31, 2013.