The stock markets in the United States were trading higher for the second consecutive session on positive economic data, despite ongoing concerns regarding the situation in Syria. The Department of Commerce reported that the annual rate for gross domestic product increased at 2.5 percent, higher than the 2.2 percent gain projected by economists based on data compiled by Bloomberg.

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The Department of Labor reported that the jobless claims declined by 6,000 to 331,000 for the week ending August 24. The figure is  lower than the average estimate of economists at 332,000.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Anastasia Amoroso, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds, said that data showed the economy is moving in the right direction and the Federal Reserve will likely reduce its bond purchases program.

“That’s just one confirmation that the data is continuing to move the right direction. That gives more evidence why the Fed should ultimately taper. But over the last couple of months the markets have been a lot more comfortable with that notion,” said Amoroso.

Regarding the issue on Syria, President Barack Obama said that he is still undecided whether or not to take military action against the country. He indicated that a “tailored, limited” military strike might be enough to prevent it from using chemical weapons in the future. On the other hand, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense stated its plan to to send six typhoon fighter jets to Cyprus as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad said Syria will “defend itself in the face of any aggression.” He added, “The threats of direct aggression against Syria will only increase our commitment to our deep-rooted principles and the independent will of our people.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 14, 840 (+0.11%)
  • S&P 500- 1,638 (+0.20%)
  • NASDAQ- 3,620 (+0.75%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,026(+0.97%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 2,758 (+0.57%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,483 (+0.82%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 8,194 (+1.45%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 13, 459 (+0.91%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 21, 704 (+0.84%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2, 318 (-0.42%)

Stocks In Focus

The stock price of Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPB) declined by more than 3% to as low as $42.87 a share after the company recorded a write down of $263 million or $0.83 per share related to its European unit in its fourth quarter financial results. During the quarter, the company reported $0.45 adjusted earnings per share and $1.723 billion net sales. Its adjusted gross margin was 36.7%.

Guess?, Inc. (NYSE:GES) surged by more than 12% to $30.82 per share after reporting better-than-expected second quarter earnings. The company reported $0.52 earnings per share, higher than its $0.49 earnings per share in the same period a year ago. Its revenue was $639 million. For the full year 2013, Guess raised its earnings guidance in the range of $1.78 to $1.92 per share.

The stock value of Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ) increased by almost 3% to $47.82 per share after the company said that it is in advanced negotiation to acquire a 45% stake in its joint venture with Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD) for approximately $130 billion.

Zillow Inc (NASDAQ:Z) rose by more than 7% to $95.60 per share after the company announced that it is opening a new office in Lincoln, Nebraska. The company also closed its $50 million deal to acquire StreetEasy.