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Stocks Close Out April With 2% Gains, S&P 500 Sets Another Record High

It was a day of relative calm on Wall Street as the major indexes closed out April with roughly 2% gains. The S&P 500 set a new intraday high today and rose 0.28% to close at another record high 1,598. The Nasdaq continued to lead the market, rising 0.66% to 3,329.

The economic news of the day was mixed. Chicago PMI came in weaker-than-expected at 49, showing a contraction in Midwest manufacturing activity in April. The S&P/Case Shiller Housing Index for 20 cities found that during February prices for single-family homes posted their biggest annual gain in seven years. Meanwhile, the Conference Board says consumer confidence jumped to 68.1 in April, lifted by a better outlook for the job market. Analysts were expecting a reading closer to 61.

Shares of Best Buy (BBY) soared over 7% on news the company is ending its business in Europe. The big box retailer is selling back its 50% stake in British cell phone company Carphone Warehouse. Best Buy bought half of Carphone Warehouse 5 years ago as a way to get its feet wet overseas. The two companies also coordinated on Best Buy cellphone stores here in the U.S.

Pfizer's (PFE) dropped over 4% on its quarterly earnings report. The pharmaceutical giant missed expectations on both earnings and revenues. In addition it lowered the outlook for the full year. Pfizer says revenues from established products fell 16% to $2.4 billion due to increasing competition from generic versions of its blockbuster drug Lipitor. A stronger dollar also hurt sales overseas.

Pitney Bowes (PBI) fell more than 4% in the wake of its earnings report. The mailing and packaging company says earnings were down an astounding 60% from a year ago. It also lowered its forecast for the full year. Making matters even worse, the company slashed its quarterly dividend in half.

China's Sina (SINA) climbed over 2% today, adding to gains of more than 9% yesterday. Sina owns a microblogging service in China that's similar to twitter. The stock jumped on the news that Alibaba has taken an 18% stake in the company.

Comments from Japan's Softbank wound up chipping away at Dish Network's (DISH) share price today. Softbank's CEO criticized Dish's recent bid for Sprint Nextel (S) saying the company would weigh down Sprint with debt and delay the possibility of a turnaround. Softbank was first to bid on Sprint back in October and says its original offer stands as a better alternative to Dish's.

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