Stocks are broadly higher today, with U.S. equities rising
following strong advances in the European and Asian markets along
with an optimistic start last night to the company earnings
reporting period. Several economic reports released today are
mildly supportive as well.
Shares of Alcoa Inc (
) -- traditionally the first of the S&P 500 companies to report
its quarterly results -- are up about 1% at mid-day after the
aluminum producer last night reported an $0.18 per share Q4 loss
from continuing operations, largely in line with recently revised
Street forecasts. The $6 billion in revenues at Alcoa during the
quarter topped estimates.
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:
Yum! Brands (
) has hit a new year high today amid reports the company is set to
expand its KFC outlets into seven more countries across Africa in
2012 and add 100 stores on the continent. Pizza Hut, another Yum
brand, expects to enter South Africa this year or next, according
to the MarketWatchreport.
Life Technologies (
) is picking up considerable support day, with shares rising after
unveiling its Benchtop Ion Proton Sequencer at the Consumer
Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The new device is designed to
decode a human genome in one day for $1,000.
Commodities also are higher. February gold contracts are up
$31.00 to $1,638.00 an ounce, while February crude oil contracts
are ahead $1.52 to $102.81 a barrel.
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