Stocks built on early gains, closing Wednesday afternoon near
their best levels of the session after the Federal Reserve said the
nation's economy was showing signs of regaining strength following
a tough winter. The Fed provided the stocks with an early boost,
saying industrial production in March slowed less than market
experts were expecting.
New economic data out of China helped extend a global rally for
equities to a second day after China said Q1 GDP growth was slowing
but still topping the market consensus while ongoing tensions in
Ukraine may have kept a lid on the rally.
In its latest Beige Book assessment of national and regional
economic conditions, the Federal Reserve said the U.S. appears to
be emerging from the weather-related slump this winter although
cold and wet weather continues to suppress sentiment. The central
bank found growth in most of its 12 districts, also observing home
prices rose moderately in recent weeks as inventory trail historic
The Fed this morning reported that industrial production slowed
to a 0.7% gain in March, better than the 0.4% increase expected.
The Fed also doubled its previous estimate for February production
to 1.2%. Utilization of factory capacity improved to 79.2%, up from
78.4% in February and comfortably above forecasts for 78.7%.
Also today, construction on new U.S. homes rose 2.8% last month
over February levels to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of
946,000, the Commerce Department said. That was down 5.9% from
year-ago levels and it also lagged the market consensus looking for
a 965,000 annual pace. February results were revised upward to a
1.9% rise, reversing the 0.2% drop initially reported by the
Building permits declined in March, falling 2.4% to an annual
rate of 990,000 units.
Crude oil for May delivery settled 2 cents lower at $103.75 per
barrel while May natural gas was down 4 cents at $2.53 per 1
million BTU. June gold rose $3.50 to $1303.40 per ounce while May
silver was up 16 cents at $19.64 per ounce. May copper added 4 cent
to settle at $3.03 per pound.
Here's where the U.S. markets stood at end-of-day:
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 162.29 (+1.00%) to 16,424.85
S&P 500 up 19.33 (+1.05%) to 1,862.31
Nasdaq Composite Index up 52.06 (+1.29%) to 4,086.23
Hang Seng Index up 0.11%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.17%
FTSE 100 Index up 0.65%
(+) ATHL, Climbs to record high after boosting its outlook for
full-year production by around 17% over its prior guidance, now
saying it will likely average between 23,000 to 24,250 barrels of
oil equivalent per day.
(+) ZGNX, Federal judge late Tuesday issues a court order
preventing the State of Massachusetts from enforcing a ban on sales
and distribution of its Zohydro painkiller, effective April 22.
(+) SODA, Reportedly in talks to sell up to a 16% equity stake
to a U.S. soft-drink firm, with the buyer paying $52 a share - a
30% premium - while receiving options that eventually could give it
a majority interest, writes Calcalist, an Israeli business
(-) BAC, Q1 loss of $0.05 per share trails analyst consensus
looking for $0.05 per share profit. Revenue falls 2.7% to $22.77
bln, beating estimates by $670 mln. Excluding valuation
adjustments, revenue slides 4% from last year to $22.7 bln.
(-) LEN, Homebuilder stocks decline after new-home construction
during March grew less than expected while building permits fell
last month, slipping 2.4% to an annual rate of 990,000 units.