Closing Update: Positive Housing, Inflation Data Carry Markets Higher While Waiting Out FOMC Decision


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U.S. stocks closed higher Tuesday, rising for a second day in a row as traders wait for signs tomorrow from the U.S. Federal Reserve on the state of the U.S. economy and the status of its ongoing stimulus programs. Today's gains also were supported by positive housing data, which despite narrowly trailing expert opinion, still showed permit applications for single-family homes rising to a seven-year high. A separate report showed inflation remains in check. All 10 sectors in the S&P 500 were higher, led by shares of industrial and consumer discretionary companies. The weakest gains were among mining and materials stocks following declines for most metals in commodities trade.

The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee began a two-day meeting today and it is widely expected to leave its bond-buying stimulus program unchanged. More important - at least for traders - will be the language in the FOMC statement tomorrow and comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during a 2 p.m. news conference, all of which will be scrutinized for any clues as to when the central will begin to taper back its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program.

Economic data today was largely supportive of stocks. Housing starts climbed 6.8% during May to a 914,000 annualized rate, the Commerce Department reported today. That trailed the median estimate of experts polled by Bloomberg News looking for housing starts to climb to a 950,000 annualized pace. The federal agency also revised its headline number for April to a 856,000 annualized pace while saying applications to build one-family homes rose 1.3% to a 622,000 pace during May - the fastest rate since May 2008.

Also today, the Labor Department said the consumer price index edged 0.1% higher last month after two straight months of declines. The so-called core index - which excludes food and energy costs and is closely watched by Fed officials because it more accurately maps price trends - rose 0.2% last month and is up 1.7% over the past 12 months.

Commodities were mixed. Gold for August delivery slid $16.20 to settle at $1,366.60 per ounce while July silver was down 8 cents to finish at $21.68 per ounce. July copper fell 4.5 cents to settle at $3.16 per pound. Among hydrocarbons, July crude oil rose 67 cents to settle at $98.44 per barrel while July natural gas added 3 cents and finished at $3.91 per 1 mln BTU.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at end-of-day:

S&P 500 up 12.39 at 1651.43

Nasdaq Composite up 29.7 to 3481.82


Hang Seng Index unchanged

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.14%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.69%


(+) WLT up 16.5% regular hours, Morgan stanley today reiterates its Overweight rating for the stock and set a $47 a share price target - suggesting as much as a threefold increase in its stock price.

(+) CBMX up 14.5% regular hours, Said prenatal testing has shown a "significant uptick" during the six months since data from two National Institutes of Health studies showing the value of chromosomal microarray analysis was published.

(+) GEVO up 20% regular hours, Resumes commercial production of isobutanol at its plant in southwestern Minnesota.


(-) GNMK down 12% regular hours, Reduces projected FY13 revenue by $5 mln from its previous guidance, now expecting around $30 mln in yearly revenue. Analysts, on average, have been looking for around $35 mln in revenue this year by the molecular diagnostics company.

(-) HRL down 3.5% regular hours, Lowers FY13 EPS guidance to $1.88 to $1.96 per share, down $0.07 per share from its prior guidance.

(-) MNKD down 12% regular, CFO says the firm has considered waiting to partner with another firm until regulators sign off on Afrezza diabetes drug.

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

Copyright (C) 2014 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

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