Closing Update: Stocks Finish to the Upside as Manufacturing Data Points to Global Growth

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Stocks finished slightly off their highs but still managed to roll to solid gains on Wednesday, snapping a four-day losing streak.

Equities traded well into positive territory throughout the session, with the S&P 500 adding more than 1% by mid-day before easing somewhat in late trade. Other market gauges followed a similar pattern after positive manufacturing data abroad raised confidence that the global economy is continuing to grow.

The U.S. manufacturing index rose to 54.1 in January from 53.1 in December, according to the Institute for Supply Management, a private economic data firm. Figures higher than 50 indicate growth. The new ISM report, which trailed expectations by 0.4. Better-than-expected manufacturing surveys out of Europe and China earlier today also lifted moods and overshadowed the mixed U.S. data.

Companies added 170,000 workers in January, according to a report from ADP Employer Services based on payrolls. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had forecasting 182,000 new jobs. But construction spending rose 1.5% in December, the Commerce Department said. Economists polled by Bloomberg had been expecting O.5% growth.

All 10 S&P sectors were in the green today, led again by financial companies. Healthcare, industrials, technology, materials and consumer staples all added 1% or more. Utilities were the relative laggards, gaining only 0.4%.

In company news, Marathon Petroleum Corp ( MPC ) traded higher throughout the session, surging 13% before modest profit-taking late in the day, after saying it is evaluating strategic alternatives for its pipelines and other midstream assets, including a possible initial public offering of a master limited partnership.

Whirlpool ( WHR ) was sharply higher after its Q4 earnings beat Steet expectations and the appliance-maker also guided FY12 results above consensus. The company expects FY12 EPS of $5.00 to $5.50. Ex special items, the FY12 EPS is expected to be $6.50 to $7.00. The Street view is $5.85 EPS. WHR reported Q4 earnings of $2.62 per share on $4.9 billion in revenues; ex one-time items, EPS was $0.32 compared with $0.43 in the same period last year.

Amazon ( AMZN ) shares rallied moderately Wednesday from a 12% deficit to finish down about 8%. The online retailer last night said its Q4 profit fell 53% from year-ago levels and revenues were nearly $1 billion short of analysts' forecasts despite 35% year-over-year growth, reporting a $0.38 per share profit on $17.43 billion in sales during the three months ended Dec. 31, 2011. That compares with a year-ago profit of $0.91 a share on $12.95 billion in revenues and the analyst consensus expecting a $0.17 EPS and $18.25 billion in Q4 sales. AMZN's Q1 revenue projections also disappointed.

Morgan Stanley ( MS ) shares added about 5% as traders began to factor in a huge windfall for the investment bankers if the company -- as expected -- is selected as the lead underwriter for Facebook's upcoming IPO.

Commodities ended mixed with gold for March delivery adding $8.90 to settle at $1,747.10 an ounce. Crude oil reversed small gains this morning and lost ground after the government's latest inventory report found a 4.2 million barrel increase, higher than estimates. March crude ended down 86 cents at $97.99 a barrel. Natural gas resumed its plunge, sliding another 12 cents today to $2.382 per 1 million British Thermal Units.

Here's where markets stood end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 83.55 (+0.66%) to 12,716.46.

S&P 500 up 11.67 (+0.89%) to 1,324.08.

NASDAQ Composite up 34.43 (+1.22%) to 2,848.27.

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei up 0.08%.

Hang Seng down 0.28%.

Shanghai Composite up 1.07%.

FTSE-100 up 1.86%.

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) COCO, Q3 $0.02 EPS on $415.5 million in revs both top Street calls.

(+) MDVN, Experimental prostate treatment yields positive results in trial.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) JDAS, Securities regulators probing accounting procedures.

(-) KWK, Cuts 2012 capital spending nearly 50% due to low natural gas prices.



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.

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


This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AMZN , MPC , MS , WHR

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