Bank of America Corp <BAC.N> climbed 2.3 percent to $17.15 and gave
one of the biggest boosts to the S&P 500 after the second-largest
U.S. bank said its quarterly profit surged by nearly $3 billion on
an increase in revenue.
The report came a day after both JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> and
Wells Fargo & Co <WFC.N> also posted better-than-expected earnings,
though Wells Fargo's mortgage lending slowed to the lowest level in
"So far so good with bank earnings this season, and it is very
positive that we're seeing significant declines in foreclosures,
which is very positive for the economy," said David Kelly, chief
global strategist for JPMorgan Funds in New York.
In the latest economic data, the seasonally adjusted Producer Price
Index rose 0.4 percent last month, the biggest increase since June,
although inflation pressures remained benign. The Federal Reserve
Bank of New York's "Empire State" index of general business
conditions climbed to its highest level in 20 months.
The data reassured investors that the economy is able to stand on
its own even as the Federal Reserve begins to slow its massive
stimulus programs, which contributed to huge equity gains in 2013.
Wall Street's rally on Wednesday erased some of 2014's early
weakness, putting the S&P 500 near the break-even level for the
In its latest Beige Book report on business activity, the Fed said
the economy grew at a moderate pace from late November through the
end of 2013, with some regions of the country expecting a pickup in
"The general trend of economic numbers is pretty positive, and
helping to get people over the shock of the recent weak payroll
report," said Kelly, who helps oversee $400 billion in assets. "An
improving economy is a trend of 2014, and that will be good for
equities throughout the year."
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 108.08 points, or 0.66
percent, to end at 16,481.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX>
advanced 9.50 points, or 0.52 percent, to close at 1,848.38. The
Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 31.87 points, or 0.76 percent,
to finish at 4,214.88.
The S&P 500 ended at a record high, beating its previous record
close by just 0.02 of a point. At its session peak, the index
climbed to 1,850.84, a record intraday high.
Apple Inc <AAPL.O> shares rose 2 percent to $557.36 a day after
Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said the company's deal with China
Mobile would help it build on its momentum in the country. This was
the third straight day of gains for the tech giant, and it is up 4.6
percent over that period.
[to top of second column]
Trading will probably be driven by earnings as the season continues.
With only 5 percent of the S&P 500 having reported results so far,
52 percent of companies have topped earnings expectations, according
to Thomson Reuters data, a rate that is below the historical average
of 63 percent.
After the closing bell, CSX Corp <CSX.N> reported fourth-quarter
earnings and sales that were slightly below expectations. Shares
fell 2.1 percent in extended-hours trading. CSX ended the regular
session at $29.23, up 1.2 percent.
During regular trading, Tesla Motors Inc <TSLA.O> shares rose 1.8
percent to $164.13. The stock's advance came a day after the
electric car maker said that deliveries of its Model S sedan in the
fourth quarter sharply exceeded what the company had forecast.
SolarCity Corp <SCTY.O> shares gained 4.5 percent to close at $68.50
after the top U.S. solar installer unveiled a plan to let investors,
including individuals, invest in its rooftop solar systems.
Shares of Chelsea Therapeutics <CHTP.O> soared after an advisory
panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded on Tuesday
that the company's drug to treat a rare form of low blood pressure
is effective enough to warrant regulatory approval. The stock jumped
91.7 percent to $4.41.
On the downside, the stock of Fastenal Co <FAST.O> slid 4.5 percent
to $46.06 and ranked as the S&P 500's biggest decliner after the
industrial and construction supply company reported fourth-quarter
earnings below expectations.
About 62 percent of the stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange
closed higher, while 63 percent of Nasdaq-listed shares ended in
Roughly 5.95 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according
to BATS exchange data.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)
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