Rising earnings push stocks to gains

Traders work on the floor of the New Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 on Wall Street. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

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Rising corporate earnings helped push the U.S. stock market higher Thursday in a day of light summertime trading. Berkshire Hathaway crossed another milestone, trading above $200,000 a share for the first time.

At the close on Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 8.5 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,955.2. Health care companies led the way as nine of the 10 industry groups in the S&P made gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 61.8 points, or nearly 0.4 percent, to 16,713.6 while the Nasdaq composite climbed 19 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,453.

BERKSHIRE BUMP: The most expensive U.S. stock just got a little bit more pricey. The Class A shares of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate went above $200,000. Buffett has never split Berkshire's A shares, although he did create more affordable Class B shares that now closed up $2.22, about 1.7 percent, at $135.30. The Class A shares rose $3,500, or nearly 2 percent, to close at $202,850.

GETTING SLEEPY: With many traders and investors on vacation, volume on the New York Stock Exchange was light. Markets often slip into a summertime lull in August. Trading desks remain short-staffed until people return from vacation after the Labor Day holiday. Without any major developments, trading volume usually dries up and stock indexes turn sleepy, as if stuck in their beach chairs. The market is on track for one of its quietest days of the year.

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CISCO SLIPS: Cisco Systems stock closed down 68 cents, about 2.7 percent, at $24.52. The slide came after Cisco Wednesday reported falling quarterly sales and profits. The technology company also announced plans to lay off 6,000 workers, roughly 8 percent of its workforce.

JOBS: The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday that more people applied for unemployment benefits last week. Applications climbed 21,000 to 311,000, and the less volatile four-week average rose, too. Still, applications for aid remain near levels last seen before recession gripped the country.

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RETAIL: Kohl's, a department-store chain, turned in quarterly profits that were slightly better than analysts' expectations. Sales slipped but the company cut costs. Kohl's surged $1.80, or 3.3 percent, to close at $56.91.

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