Investors hope for strong 4th quarter earnings reports; Markets close reaching highs

Investors put the weak 4th quarter earnings at the start of the week aside as renewed optimism abound with the slew of upcoming 4th quarter reports from Intel and JP Morgan among others. Investors were betting that the results would be much more positive than Monday’s announcement from Alcoa that it feel below forecasters expectations for the quarter. As of current time, it seems investors placed their bets well as Intel saw profit pickup in the 4th quarter. Citing a greater demand in computer shipments Intel delivered a net income of 40 cents per share, compared with 4 cents a year ago. Sales climbed 29 percent to $10.6 billion.

As if already expecting Intel to announce profit results, the rest of the technology sector had a big day in Wall Street, undoubtedly helping the index close at a 16 month high. Winners included Merck (MRK), Microsoft (MSFT), IBM (IBM) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). Looking forward to JP Morgan’s quarterly report financials had a strong day as well with Citigroup Inc (C) and Bank of America (BAC) making gains. JP Morgan is set to release their report on Friday.

Unemployment claims spiked up from 433,000 to 444,000 last week, up from the previous week. This is to be expected as many retail companies have begun laying off their seasonal employees. Sales for the holiday retail season declined by 0.3% in December. Economists were expecting sales to have risen 0.5%, according to a consensus of economists surveyed by Briefing.com. The government announced that in November, business inventories rose 0.4% after rising 0.4% in the previous month. Economists thought claims the increase would be 0.3%.

The Dow rose 29.78, or 0.3 percent to close the session at 10,710.50. The S&P 500 index rose 2.78 to close at 1,148.46, and the Nasdaq rose 8.84, to end at 2,316.74.

Gold rose $6.20 to settle at $1,143 an ounce as oil continued to fall, down 26 cents to settle at $79.39 a barrel.

Across Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 ended the day between 0.4 and 0.5 percent higher. While in Asia Japan’s Nikkei made huge gains closing at 10,907.68

On the New York Stock Exchange, winners beat losers by four to three on volume of 650 million shares. On the Nasdaq, advancers topped decliners eight to five on volume of 1.85 billion shares.

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