First the scoreboard:
Dow: 14,756, +157.5 pts, +1.0%
S&P 500: 1,574, +22.2 pts, +1.4%
NASDAQ: 3,264, +48.1 pts, +1.5%
And now the top stories:
- A few good economic reports and earnings announcements were well-received by the markets.
- Housing starts jumped by 7% in March to an annualized level of 1.03 million. Expectations were for a 1.4% increase. "Underlying trends remain largely consistent with a gradual housing market recovery," said TD Securities' Gennadiy Goldberg.
- Industrial production grew by 0.4% in March, which was double the 0.2% expected by economists. This was largely due to utility production during an unseasonably cold March. Capacity utilization climbed to 78.5% from 78.4%. "The overall tone of this report was mixed, as the surge in utility product which was due to the cold-snap is likely to unwind in April," noted TD Securities' Millan Mulraine.
- Meanwhile, consumer prices unexpectedly fell by a 0.2%, largely due to the 4.4% drop in gas prices. Economists were looking for an unchanged level in the consumer price index. The good thing about this is that should the economy be weaker than expected, the monetary authorities will have more flexibility to ease.
- Earnings announcements came in strong this morning. Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and BlackRock all reported profits that were stronger than expected.
- Tech giants Intel and Yahoo announce earnings after the closing bell.
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