Stocks were broadly higher today, with U.S. equities rising
following strong advances in the European and Asian markets.
Several mid-tier economic reports released today also helped
contribute to the optimistic tone along with carry-over momentum
from the first earnings report of the season last night.
Shares of Alcoa Inc (
) -- traditionally the first of the S&P 500 companies to report
its quarterly results -- were up despite posting its first
quarterly loss since 2009. The company lost 3 cents a share in the
quarter, in line with analysts' estimates. But revenues of $5.99
billion beat Street expectations and Alcoa also gave a positive
outlook on global demand over the rest of the year for
In economic indicators released today, small-business optimism
rose in December for the fourth consecutive month, according to the
National Federation of Independent Business in its monthly survey.
Optimism rose 1.8 points, settling at 93.8 last month and
representing a 5.7-point gain since September. Despite the extended
advance, the industry group cautioned that the total reading
remains in recession territory.
Also, inventories at U.S. wholesalers rose 0.1% in November,
following a revised 1.2% gain in October, the Commerce Department
reported today. Economists had projected a 0.5% rise, according to
the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Sales climbed 0.6%
in November, the agency said.
There were 3.2 million job openings on the last business day of
November, unchanged from the end of October, the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics reported today. The hires rate was 3.2% and the
separations rate was 3.0%, also little changed over the month
although the job openings rate has trended upward since the end of
the recession in June 2009.
In company news:
Tiffany & Co. (
) was down by double digits today after cutting its full-year
profit outlook after holiday season sales of fine jewelry slowed
"markedly" in the U.S. and Europe. Adjusted profit for the 12
months ended Jan. 31 likely will now be in a range between $3.60 to
$3.65 per share, down from a previous guidance looking for as much
as $3.80 a share.
) was extending its rally near the close today after raising its
2011 EPS view to a range of $2.96 to $2.99 per share, up from a
previous range of $2.90 to $2.95 per share and ahead of the analyst
consensus of $2.94 per share.
Yum! Brands (
) also was gaining today amid reports the company is set to add as
many as 100 new KFC outlets on the African continent this year.
Pizza Hut, another Yum brand, expects to enter South Africa this
year or next, according to MarketWatch.
Commodities were higher. February gold contracts and crude oil
contracts each advanced. Futures of frozen orange juice concentrate
soared earlier today after small amounts of fungicide were found in
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