Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened higher on Wednesday, after the minutes of the Federal Reserve's March meeting showed that policymakers remain divided over how long to stick with quantitative easing.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.40%, the S&P 500 index advanced 0.42%, while the Nasdaq Composite index gained 0.56%.
Minutes from the Fed's March 19-20 meeting showed that a few policymakers saw QE tapering around midyear, while several others believed it would be appropriate to slow purchases later in the year and to stop them by year-end.
One member wanted to slow the bond purchases immediately, while two members indicated that the purchases might well continue at the current pace at least through the end of the year.
The meeting was held before U.S. nonfarm payrolls data showed that the U.S. economy added 88,000 jobs last month, far below forecasts for an increase of 200,000.
Financial stocks were broadly higher, as shares in Bank of America rose 0.33% and JP Morgan advanced 0.82%, while Goldman Sachs and Citigroup jumped 1.11% 1.64% respectively.
Goldman Sachs was reportedly preparing to face a lawsuit in which Prudential Financial accused the U.S. lender of defrauding it into buying more than USD375 million of residential mortgage-backed securities it knew were unsafe.
On the downside, hospital operator Health Management Associates plunged 12.55%, after it reduced on Tuesday its outlook for 2013 earnings and revenue, citing weak patient admissions in the first quarter of the year.
In the same sector, Reuters reported that a Nevada jury awarded USD500 million in punitive damages in a case against two affiliates of UnitedHealth Group stemming from a hepatitis C outbreak in the state. Shares in UnitedHealth edged up 0.08% at the open of the U.S. trading session.
In the tech sector, Thermo Fisher Scientific surged 3.02% after making a binding offer for Life Technologies on Tuesday, marking another step in the race to finalize a consortium to take the genetic testing equipment maker private.
Separately, Yahoo and Apple were reportedly discussing how more Yahoo services can play a prominent role on Apple's iPhone and iPad. Yahoo shares climbed 0.78%, while Apple gained 0.25%.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were sharply higher. The EURO STOXX 50 rallied 1.79%, France's CAC 40 jumped 1.43%, Germany's DAX advanced 1.37%, while Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.86%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 0.73%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced 0.73%.
Market sentiment was boosted earlier after data showed that China posted an unexpected trade surplus in March as imports rose sharply to outstrip exports.
The data helped eased concerns over weakening domestic demand in the world's second largest economy.
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