The stock markets in the United States ended the trading session with gains today. Investors are optimistic about the economy due to positive employment data and consumer confidence.

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Today, the Department of Labor reported that the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits declined by 10,000 to 361,000 last week, an indication that the labor market is improving.

On the other hand, The Thomson Reuters/University of Chicago final index showed that the consumer sentiment for the month of November increased from 73.2 to 75.1 points.  Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had an average forecast for consumer confidence at 73.1 points.

Commenting on the momentum of the markets, Bill Schultz, chief investment officer at McQueen Ball & Associates said, “Given how far we’ve run this year, this is just a healthy breather we’re taking here in the market. Are we going to get higher rates again? Is tapering still out there? The market is playing with what’s going to come next and how we position going forward given a number of uncertainty still sitting out there.”

Eric Marshall, president and portfolio manager at Hodges Capital Management opined that consumer confidence is coming back, but the improvement is slow. He also said, “Stocks may still be attractive relative to where the interest rate environment is now. Going forward, we can still get a little more multiple expansion, but not much. The real driver for stocks will be earnings.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)-16,097.33 (+0.15%)
  • S&P 500-1,807.23 (+0.25%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,044.75 (+0.67%)
  • Russell 2000-1,141.36 (+0.60%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,082.65 (+0.65%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,649.47 (+0.20%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,351.13 (+0.66%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 15,449.63 (-0.42%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 23,806.35 (+0.53%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,414.48 (+1.13%)

Stocks in Focus

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

The shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) increased 2.35% to $545.96 per share driven by reports that the iPhone 5S will be available sooner. The tech giant’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd. (TPE:2354) stepped up its production for the device allowing Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to ship the device within three to five business days. The previous schedule for the shipment of the device was between two to three weeks.

Analog Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADI)

The stock price of Analog Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADI) declined 2.76% to $48.54 per share after issuing lower than expected earnings guidance for the first quarter. The company is expecting to deliver adjusted earnings in the range of $0.44 to $0.52 per share compared with the estimate of analysts at $0.56 per share.

Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ)

On the other hand, the stock value of Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) rose 9.05% to $27.36 per share after the company reported better-than-expected financial performance for the fourth quarter. The company posted $1.02 non-GAAP earnings per share on $29.1 billion revenue.