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Midday Update: Big Gains For Bank of America, Empire State Index Drives S&P 500 To Record High

By: MT Newswires
Posted: 1/15/2014 12:29:00 PM
Referenced Stocks: AAPL;BAC;GE;MSFT

All three of the major U.S. market gauges were higher Wednesday, with the S&P 500 climbing to a new record high and better than expected earnings from Bank of America ( BAC ), strong iPhone ( AAPL ) sales in China and upbeat economic data fueling gains for stocks.

Wall Street is also hopeful that the Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book assessment due out at 2 p.m. ET today will provide anecdotal evidence of a robust economy, ultimately contributing to increased business investment and strong Q1 earnings. Financial stocks are leading the way higher, while shares of industrial and technology companies also are rising, including gains of over 1% each for Dow components General Electric ( GE ) and Microsoft ( MSFT ).

The session kicked off with an as-expected 0.4% increase in wholesale prices, a big reversal from a 0.1% contraction from November. Excluding food and fuels, producer prices were up 0.3% versus consensus opinion looking for a 0.1% rise.

But the PPI data was eclipsed by a manufacturing barometer from the New York Federal Reserve branch, with the Empire State business conditions index surging to a 12.51 reading this month, nearly four times what the Street was expecting and significantly better than the 0.98 index reading in December.

Also today, the Atlanta Fed inflation expectations index was unchanged at 1.9%.

Europe edged higher today as well, thanks to strength in U.S. markets combined with The World Bank bumping up their global growth forecast by 0.2% to 3.2%. All of Europe's indices closed with very constructive gains, led by Germany's DAX index as a result of a wider EU-zone trade surplus.

Crude oil was up $1.65 to $94.24 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.04 to $4.36 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $4.90 to $1.240.20 an ounce, while silver was down $0.11 to $20.18 an ounce. Copper was up $0.02 to $3.36 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 1.94% to $33.68 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 1.23% to $21.48. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 0.98% to 22.34 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.19% to $119.66. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.13% to $19.44.

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

NYSE Composite Index up 47.82 (+0.46%) to 10,390.91

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 121.63 (+0.74%) to 16,495.49

S&P 500 up 10.20 (+0.55%) to 1,849.08

Nasdaq Composite Index up 29.68 (+0.71%) to 4,212.70

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 2.50%

Hang Seng Index up 0.49%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.17%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.78%

CAC 40 up 1.35%

DAX up 2.03%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index down 0.01%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.87%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.24%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) CHTP (+109.57%) FDA advisory panel recommends the company's NORTHERA drug candidate be approved for the treatment of symptomatic neurogenic orthostatic hypotension in patients with Parkinson's Disease and other muscular problems.

(+) DTLK (+26.86%) Expects Q4 revenue of around $174 million, beating its prior guidance of $160 to $170 million and ahead of the analyst consensus of $167 million.

(+) BAC (+2.74%) Reports Q4 net earnings of $0.29 per share, up from $0.03 per share in the year ago period and topping Wall Street estimates by $0.03 per share.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) FAST (-5.52%) The company said Q4 EPS was $0.33, a penny shy of the Street

(-) RNN (-10.78%) Plans to sell $20 million of units in a registered direct offering at a price of $1.05 per unit.

(-) NUS (-20.55%) China's People's Daily article contained comments criticizing the company's business practices.