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Stock Market News for January 19, 2012

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A better than expected housing report from the National Association of Home Builders (:NAHB) along with positive news coming out of Europe and solid earnings figures from Goldman Sachs boosted investor sentiment and helped the markets to close in the green. The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index closed above the psychological 1,300 mark for the first time since July last year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (:DJIA) gained 0.8% or 96.88 points to settle at 12,578.95 recording its biggest gain in more than two weeks. 23 of the 30 stocks in the blue chip index stocks registered increases while the remaining seven closed in the red. The S&P 500 index (S&P 500) posted gains of 1.1% and closed yesterday’s trading session at 1,308.04. The technology sector emerged as the clear gainer of the day after Linear Technology Corp (NASDAQ:LLTC) announced that the circuit maker’s revenue may rise as much as 8% in its third quarter. Yesterday’s gains mark the sixth straight gain in seven days for the S&P 500. The tech laden Nasdaq Composite Index increased to 2,769.71, adding 1.5%. Total volumes on the New York Stock Exchange were 800 million shares and for every 4 stocks that rose one declined. Total composite volumes were about 4 billion shares.

Markets received a boost after data the NAHB revealed that confidence among home builders had increased to 25 points for the month of January. This is the index’s highest reading since June 2007.  Following this positive report, shares of homebuilder stocks like Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE:HOV) and PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM) surged.

Separately, the Federal Reserve reported that Industrial Production had increased by 0.4% for the month of December following a 0.3% decline in November. For the fourth quarter as a whole, industrial production rose at an annual rate of 3.1%, its 10th consecutive quarterly gain.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that The Producer Price Index for finished goods has declined 0.1% in December. Prices for finished goods had moved up by 0.3% in November and declined by 0.3% in October. Other major economic reports slated for release later today are Housing Starts, Weekly Jobless Claims, CPI and Crude Inventories.

Coming to the European front, the markets moved marginally upwards after the IMF proposed to raise its lending ability to more than $500 billion to help fight the Euro crisis. The Greek government may strike a deal with its private creditors in the coming days over a debt swap. Separately, Germany sold two-year notes at a record lowest yield and Portugal successfully sold off the maximum targeted government debt.

Coming to earnings results, banking giant Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) reported its fourth quarter earnings results. The investment bank reported earnings of $1.1 billion or $1.84 a share, which came in above the Street’s expectations. Another banking company, Bank of New York Mellon Corp (NYSE:BK) also reported its fourth quarter earnings. However, the bank’s net income for the quarter fell by 26%, missing expectations. Share prices of fibre-optical cable maker Amphenol Corporation (NYSE:APH) rose after the company’s fourth quarter earnings topped analyst’s expectations. Videogame maker Majesco Entertainment’s (NASDAQ:COOL) share prices fell 27% after the company reported a fourth-quarter loss. The company also provided a weak 2012 earnings outlook, well below expectations.

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