DJIA: 18,232.02  -53.72 (-0.29%) | NASDAQ: 5,089.362  -1.433 (-0.03%) | S&P 500: 2,126.06  -4.76 (-0.22%) Markets status unavailable

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    * Jobless claims, factory data weaker-than expected. * April home resales unexpectedly decline. * Shake Shack hits record on trademark filing. * Salesforce up after first profit in seven quarters. * Indexes up: Dow 0.07 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct. By Tanya Agrawal.

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    For small companies looking to raise money, going public is becoming a more attractive option.When Arlington-based health IT company Evolent Health filed for an initial public offering of stock this month, it became the sixth Washington company to do so in 2015. Nationally, more than 270 U.S. companies made their public debuts last year, the highest amount since 2000, according to a report by research firm Renaissance Capital.Industry watchers say a booming stock market — major indices are hovering near all-time highs — and a recovering economy have made this a favorable time for companies to take the plunge. Many are also taking advantage of the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a federal law designed to make it easier for small businesses to raise capital.The biotechnology industry in particular is seeing renewed interest. There were 71 biotech IPOs last year, a 92 percent increase from 2013, according to the Renaissance report.“The surge has been fueled by new methods of drug discovery, a streamlined Federal Drug Administration approval process, a large amount of dedicated venture capital and higher risk tolerance among investors,” the report said.Public financing is a good fit for the biotech industry because companies need heavy upfront investments to fund basic research and development, said Charles Crain, senior manager of tax and financial services policy at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a national trade group.In the Washington area, that trend has been concentrated in Maryland’s Montgomery County, where many biotech companies are based.“It’s been an incredible time,” said Rachel King, chief executive of Gaithersburg-based GlycoMimetics (GLYC). The company works on treatments for blood diseases and raised $56 million on its Nasdaq debut last year after more than a decade as a private company.The right time to court investors is when a company achieves research milestones, said King, which many have notched up in the past few years. The JOBS Act also made it easier for GlycoMimetics (GLYC) to take the leap, she said.The act was designed to spur job creation by reducing the regulatory burden on small businesses that need to raise money. The law instructed the SEC to draw up rules for crowdfunding and its relaxed regulations on stock offerings. The law includes provisions to allow firms to file confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission, have multiple meetings with investors to pitch their wares and enjoy certain exemptions during their first five years as publicly traded companies. Although the crowdfunding rules are still in development, the stock guidelines have led to a sudden boost in public filings, analysts say.Biotech isn’t the only Washington area industry reaping the benefits of stock market highs. The shakeup in government contracting circles, as companies reposition themselves for an era of tighter federal budgets, has led some refugees to create new companies. Many are likely to turn to public funding as an option to help their young firms grow, said Stephen Fuller, an economist at George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis.“The cutbacks in federal spending helped propel people who had entrepreneurial skills into other opportunities by necessity,” he said.It’s not just small companies. Many now think government spending cuts have bottomed out, which is why stock market valuations for defense companies are above average and higher than they’ve been over the last five years, said Robert Kipps, managing director of Kipps DeSanto, a McLean aerospace-defense investment bank.That has some firms looking to the future.McLean-based Alion Science and Technology, which performs science and engineering work for the Pentagon, recently filed to go public and hopes to raise $100 million in its debut.




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    Shares of Chesapeake Energy (CHK) are higher by 2.92% to $15.18 in late morning trading on Thursday, as some energy and related stocks rise along with the price of oil. The commodity is advancing due to the decline in U.S. oil storage levels and improved manufacturing data out of China, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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    * Disappointing data raise doubts about U.S. economy * U.S. to sell $13 bln 10-year inflation bonds * Investors mull Fed rate hike timing after FOMC minutes * U.S. bond market to close early Friday, shut Monday By Richard Leong NEW YORK, May 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries yields declined on Thursday as a batch of disappointing economic reports revived worries about the U.S. economy and prompted further questions whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year. Weaker-than-expected data on existing home sales, the manufacturing sector and U.S. Mid-Atlantic business activity came a day after the central bank signaled a June rate hike is doubtful following an anemic first-quarter. Fed policy-makers expressed at their April 28-29 meeting they would like to see further economic improvement to decide on ending their near zero interest rate policy stand, according to minutes released on Wednesday. "The economic news is still soft in the second quarter," said Gary Pollack, head of fixed-income trading for private wealth management at Deutsche Bank Asset and Wealth Management in New York. While most Wall Street economists forecast the Fed to raise rates by year-end, many of them said the Fed may postpone such a move until 2016 if more weak data comes to the surface. Treasuries yields declined further on an emergence of month-end portfolio buying tied to an expected adjustment of a widely-followed Treasuries market index that includes more longer-dated issues, analysts said. In early U.S. trading, benchmark 10-year Treasuries were up 11/32 in price with a yield of 2.211 percent, down 4 basis points from late Wednesday. The 30-year bond was up 28/32 in price, yielding 3.006 percent, down 4.5 basis points on the day. U.S. bonds' tied to their European counterparts eased somewhat as Bund and peripheral yields edged up on 15 billion euros of sovereign debt offered by France and Spain. Selling pressure on Treasuries from the domestic corporate bond sector also eased heading into a three-day U.S. holiday weekend. More than $42 billion worth of investment grade corporate bonds have been sold so far this week, putting May on pace as a record month for issuance, according to IFR, a unit of Thomson Reuters. Less corporate supply might bolster interest in the $13 billion auction of 10-year Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) at 1 p.m. (1700 GMT), analysts said. The U.S. bond market will close at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Friday, and stay shut on Monday for the U.S. Memorial Day holiday. (Editing by Chris Reese)

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    * TSX up 112.86 points, or 0.75 percent, to 15,185.69. By Solarina Ho. Canada's main stock index rebounded on Thursday, lifted in part by a general upbeat tone among investors and higher crude prices that bolstered energy stocks for the third straight session.

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    * Jobless claims, factory data weaker-than expected. * April home resales unexpectedly decline. * Lumber Liquidators plunges after CEO resigns. * CVS up on $10.1 bln Omnicare deal. * Indexes up: Dow 0.02 pct, S&P 0.1 pct, Nasdaq 0.2 pct. By Tanya Agrawal.

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    "Refracking" is an extension of the horizontal drilling "fracking" techniques that have revitalized oil production here in the United States. Fracking is the process where water and chemicals are sent into new wells that have been drilled horizontally, designed to tease oil and gas out from between the rock formations where it hides.

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    U.S. Treasuries prices added to earlier gains on Thursday as data showing a surprise April drop in domestic home resales and an unexpected slowing in U.S. Mid-Atlantic business growth raised worries about the U.S. economy. Benchmark 10-year Treasuries notes were last 11/32 higher in price for a yield of 2.209 percent, down 4 basis points from late on Wednesday.

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    opened slightly lower on Thursday as investors assessed a number of economic reports a day after the Federal Reserve minutes signaled a June interest-rate hike was unlikely. Jobless claims and national activity index both missed expectations. The S&P 500 opened 2 points, or 0.1%, lower at 2,124. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 23 points, or 0.1%, to 18,260. The Nasdaq Composite began the session down 5 points, or 0.1%, at 5,066..

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    Stocks extended slight gains on Thursday as crude oil topped $60 a barrel, triggering a rally among energy companies. The S&P 500 was up 0.18%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.03%, and the Nasdaq added 0.34%. Crude oil added to Wednesday's gains as commodity traders cheered data that showed a further decline in U.S. oil inventories.

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    Shares of NetApp (NTAP) are plunging 11.69% to $31.20 in Thursday's pre-market trading after JPMorgan (JPM) downgraded the California-based computer storage and data management company to "underweight" from "neutral." JPMorgan (JPM) analysts said the downgrade was due to fourth quarter revenues that were 10.9% below their estimates. NetApp (NTAP) reported weak fourth quarter results yesterday.

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    * 4-week jobless claims at lowest since April 2000. * Lumber Liquidators plunges after CEO resigns unexpectedly. * Best Buy rises; NetApp falls after results. * CVS up on $10.1 bln Omnicare deal. * Futures down: Dow 23 pts, S&P 2.75 pts, Nasdaq 10.50 pts. By Tanya Agrawal.

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    U.S. Treasuries prices tacked on gains briefly on Thursday as domestic first-time filings for unemployment benefits rose more than forecast in the latest week but the increase was not large enough to change the view of steady jobs growth. Benchmark 10-year Treasuries notes were last up 2/32 in price to yield 2.246 percent, down 0.7 basis point from late on Wednesday.

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    Stock futures were lower on Thursday as jobless claims hit a four-week high and markets continued to digest signs the Federal Reserve will push a rate hike out to later this year. S&P 500 futures were down 0.14%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 0.11%, and Nasdaq futures slipped 0.22%. . Initial jobless claims for the week ended May 15 climbed 10,000 to a four-week high of 274,000.

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    Shares of Shake Shack (SHAK) are rising, up 1.08% to $91.68 in pre-market trading Thursday, after the burger joint applied for a "chicken shack" according to its subsidiary SSE IP's recent trademark filing, CNBC reports. "Shake Shack (SHAK) was born from a fine dining company, and we constantly test new menu items in our test kitchen," the company said in the statement.

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    - The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Thursday after disappointing economic data bolstered expectations that an interest rate hike is likely to come only later in the year. Traders warned that below-average volume in recent sessions suggests that not all of Wall Street may be confident in the market's gains.

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    * Futures down: Dow 15 pts, S&P 2 pts, Nasdaq 9.5 pts. U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower on Thursday, a day after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting bolstered expectations that interest rates would stay near zero until later this year.