Closing Update: Markets End With Moderate Gains; Boosted by Positive IMF Economic Growth Forecast

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Stocks rose Tuesday, snapping a three-day losing string after the International Monetary Fund predicted the United States and other wealthy nations would lead the global economy higher this year. Technology stocks helped pace the rebound today, lifting the Nasdaq Composite index to nearly a 1% advance. Shares of energy and consumer discretionary companies posted even stronger advances today, with healthcare issues the lone sector in the S&P 500 index to decline as a group.

Global output should expand 3.6% this year and 3.9% in 2015, the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook report. While the 2014 forecast was down slightly from the organization's prior predictions, 2015 - if the IMF predictions come to pass - would produce the strongest year of growth since 2011.

Alcoa ( AA ) kicks off the Q1 earnings season tonight, with Wall Street expecting the aluminum producer to post per-share earnings during the three months ended March 31 of $0.05 per share, down from an $0.11 per share profit in the year-ago period. Revenue also is projected to decline about 4.9% from the same quarter last year to $5.55 billion in the latest quarter, according to Capital IQ.

The financial reporting really picks up steam later this week, with JPMorgan Chase ( JPM ) and Wells Fargo ( WFC ) posting results on Friday.

Economic data was again limited on Tuesday. The National Federation of Independent Businesses reported a moderate increase in business optimism as measured by its monthly index, which rose to a 93.4 reading in March from 91.4 in February.

Retail sales also showed moderate improvement last week, according to a survey of the major retail chains by Goldman Sachs and the International Council of Shopping Centers as well as a broader look at the sector by Redbook. The ICSC-Goldman Sachs survey found a 1.5% rise during the week ended April 5 following a 3.6% gain the previous week. The Redbook survey reported a 2.9% sales increase last week over year-ago levels, citing mild weather and pent-up demand for the advance.

Commodities were higher. Crude oil for May delivery settled $2.12 higher at $102.56 per barrel while May natural gas was up 6 cents higher at $4.53 per 1 million BTU. June gold rose $6.140 to finish at $1,304.30 per ounce while May silver added 16 cents to $20.07 per ounce. May copper rose a penny, settling at $3.05 per pound.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at the end of today's session:

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 10.40 (+0.06%) to 16,256.14

S&P 500 up 6.92 (+0.4%) to 1,851.96

Nasdaq Composite Index up 33.23 (+0.81%) to 4,112.99

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng Index up 0.98%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 1.92%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.49%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) OFAB, Accepts $94 mln buyout offer from FNB Corp ( FNB ), with OFAB shareholders receiving 1.781 FNB shares for each share they now own. The deal values OFAB at around $23.56 a share - a nearly 28% premium over its closing price on Monday.

(+) VIPS, Upgrade to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse, which also raised its price target for the stock by $33 to $178 a share.

(+) ZGNX, Sues in federal court to overturn an executive order by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick barring doctors from prescribing or drug stores from selling its Zohydro painkiller.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) JRCC, Files voluntary petition for bankruptcy protection in the Eastern District of Virginia. Secures $110 mln in debt-in-possession financing from a group of lenders.

(-) SPNC, Reports preliminary Q1 revenue of $39.6 mln, up 5% over same quarter last year but trailing analyst forecasts for the period by around $1.82 mln.

(-) ICLD, Posts adjusted Q4 net loss of $3.24 per share, compared with $0.91 loss in year-ago period. Revenue climbed 5.4% year over year to $11.8 mln.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AA , JPM , WFC , FNB

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