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Stocks move higher on latest economic news and better-than expected Bank of America (BAC) earnings

Stocks ended the day higher after two key economic reports Wednesday. The Fed’s Beige Book revealed the economy is expanding at a moderate pace with eight of the twelve districts reporting hiring growth. Producer prices rose 0.4% in December, according to the Labor Department, led by a jump in energy prices. The core producer prices index, which strips out the more volatile food and energy sectors, rose 0.3%, slightly more than expectations of a 0.1% increase.

Bank of America (BAC) and Apple (AAPL) helped boost stocks to a second-straight gain. Bank of America beat earnings and revenue estimates for the fourth quarter. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the recent deal with China Mobile (CHL) helped drive record iPhone sales. Cook also said Apple plans to broaden its partnership with China Mobile beyond handsets.

More big earnings reports are expected tomorrow, including Citigroup (C), Goldman Sachs (GS) and UnitedHealth Group (UNH) before the bell. American Express (AXP) and Intel (INTC) are expected after the close Thursday.

Also before the bell Thursday, investors will be watching for the latest reads on inflation and the job market with the Consumer Price Index for December and initial jobless claims releasing at 8:30am ET.

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