Midday Update: Stocks Extend Gains As Production Data Beats Estimates

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Stocks are holding onto constructive gains, with upbeat production data and better-than-expected earnings from Yahoo ( YHOO ) helping to consolidate yesterday's late rebound by equities. Despite pockets of profit-taking, especially among semiconductor stocks, today's gains were lifting the Nasdaq Composite index comfortably over the 4,000 mark while the S&P 500 had moved above its 1,850 support levels.

Industrial production improved 0.7% last month, beating estimates for a 0.4% increase. In addition, the upward revision to February production was twice the original print of 0.6%, underscoring the economy's resurgence from severe winter weather. Meanwhile, capacity utilization hit a five and a half-year high of 79.2, topping estimates of 78.7.

The housing data wasn't as market-friendly, but did not throw much of a wrench into today's trading. Housing starts rose only 2.8% in March to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 946,000, missing estimates of 965,000. February, however, was revised upward from 907,000 to 920,000. Permits declined 2.3% to 990,000 from a downwardly revised 1.014 mln the month prior.

European equities closed near their six year highs as better than expected Chinese GDP, cooling tensions in Ukraine, an unexpected drop in the UK jobless rate, and a strong close in the U.S. on Tuesday all fuel today's impressive gains. Germany's DAX outperformed its other European counterparts thanks to a strong German bund auction, shrugging off bearish EU-zone inflation data.

Crude oil was down $0.08 to $103.69 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.02 to $4.60 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $0.10 to $1,300.40 an ounce, while silver was up $0.12 to $19.61 an ounce. Copper was up $0.05 to $3.03 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.16% to $37.33 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 0.63% to $25.28. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 1.02% to 23.79 while SPDR Gold Shares was down 0.17% to $125.28. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.21% to $18.84.

Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index up 81.66 (+0.79%) to 10,483.64

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 117.33 (+0.72%) to 16,379.89

S&P 500 up 13.15 (+0.71%) to 1,856.13

Nasdaq Composite Index up 36.82 (+0.91%) to 4,070.98

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 3.01%

Hang Seng Index up 0.11%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.17%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.65%

CAC 40 up 1.39%

DAX up 1.57%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.86%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.70%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.27%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) APRI (+16.92%) The company said it made its first shipment of its Vitaros erectile dysfunction treatment to the U.K.

(+) ZLCS (+36.88%) Plans to merge with Epirus Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.

(+) AMCO (+26.23%) Agreed to acquire Draco Resources via a stock exchange valued at approximately $46 million.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) XGTI (-13.36%) Prices 5.27-million shares at a discounted $1.90 each.

(-) CRDC (-5.32%) Prices 32.6 million shares at a discounted 85 cents each.



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: YHOO

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