CLOSING UPDATE: Stocks Close Higher For Second Day On Strong Auto Sales, Benign Beige Book

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Strong auto sales coupled with few surprises from the Fed's Beige Book fueled today's big gains in the stock market as the Dow Industrials closed higher for a second straight day. Upbeat earnings from Dollar General ( DG ) and gains in the tech sector got the ball rolling early, helping equities shrug off this morning's balance of trade data and lingering uncertainty over the U.S. response to Syria's use of chemical weapons.

The July trade deficit widened slightly to $39.1 billion from a downward revision to the June deficit to $34.5 billion, which will likely translate into a downward revision in GDP. The data did not generate much of a response from the financial markets as the upbeat auto sales data, especially from Ford ( F ) and General Motors ( GM ), quickly overshadowed bearish trade data.

As for the Beige Book, the Fed continued to report "modest" to "moderate" growth in most regions, strengthening the case for Fed tapering by at least the end of the year.

Here's where the markets stood at the close:

US MARKETS

Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 96.91 (+0.65%) to 14,930.87

S&P 500 was up 13.31 (+0.81%) to 1,653.08

Nasdaq Composite Index was up 36.43 (+1.01%) to 3,649.04

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

FTSE 100 was up 0.10%

Nikkei 225 was up 0.54%

Hang Seng Index was down 0.31%

Shanghai China Composite Index was up 0.21%

UPSIDE MOVERS

DG, The discount retailer beat earnings by $0.03 and reported a 15% increase in profit on strong consumable sales

ASTX, The stock rallied today on rumors that the company is a take-over target by privately-owned Otsuka Pharma.

ROCM, C.R. Baird makes $247 million offer for Rochester Medical

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

FRAN, The woman's apparel retailer missed Q2 estimates and cut guidance for 2013

RYAAY, Full year profit is expected to be at the lower end of target range and full-year traffic was reduced from 81.5 million to under 81 million

MDXG, Accusations that the company is marketing drugs without proper licenses caused multiple trading halts on the stock



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: DG , F , GM

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