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Stocks higher on Wall Street; Pfizer gains

Steve Rothwell, AP Markets Writer

Trader Warren Meyers, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Stocks are higher in early trading on Wall Street as the stock market turns positive after three days of losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks rose for the first time in four days following a big slump prompted by worries about global growth. Investors are watching U.S. company earnings news and waiting for the start of the Federal Reserve's January policy meeting. Emerging markets stabilized as policymakers in Turkey said they would take action to stem the decline of the nation's currency.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 10 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,791 as of 11:20 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,898. The Nasdaq rose one point to 4,085.

STEMMING THE DECLINE: The Turkish lira was little changed against the dollar after the nation's central bank signaled that it is preparing to reverse course and raise interest rates to address higher inflation. The currency's decline was at the center of an emerging market slump that prompted the global sell-off in stocks. The lira was trading at 2.30 per dollar on Wednesday and has fallen six percent against the dollar this year.

OVER THERE: Global financial markets stabilized Tuesday, following several days of turmoil in stocks and emerging market currencies. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.5 percent at 6,580 while Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent at 9,403. The CAC-40 in France was 1 percent higher at 4,186. Asian markets were mixed.

THE LAST BIG THING: Apple slumped $36.75, or 6.7 percent, to $513.67 after the company's first-quarter results disappointed investors. Apple also provided a cautious second-quarter revenue forecast. First-quarter shipments of iPhones were below expectations, reinforcing perceptions that Apple is now mostly selling its mobile devices to repeat customers who are upgrading their devices, instead of reeling in new customers.

CABLE GUYS: Comcast Corp. gained $1.19, or 2.3 percent, to $53.70 after the cable company said that it had added 43,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter, the first quarterly gain in six and a half years, as the uptake of its X1 set-top box helped it retain customers and increase revenue from video-on-demand. Comcast also said Tuesday that it is raising its quarterly dividend and will buy back more of its own stock.

COMPANY EARNINGS: Fourth-quarter earnings at major U.S. companies are projected to rise by 6 percent in the fourth quarter from the same period a year ago. Of the companies that have reported their results so far, about two thirds have met or beaten investors' expectations, according to S&P Capital IQ.

After signs of accelerating economic growth in the fourth quarter, some investors are disappointed that companies aren't seeing signs of stronger demand.

"People were hoping, generally, for better earnings," said David Lafferty, chief market strategist for Natixis Global Asset Management. "We've sort of met expectations, but we haven't significantly exceeded them."

THE FED: Most analysts expect that Federal Reserve policymakers will further reduce the central bank's bond purchases by $10 billion to $65 billion. The Fed has been buying the bonds to keep long-term interest rates extremely low to encourage lending and hiring.

DRUGS BEAT: Pfizer gained 89 cents, or 3 percent, to $30.56 after the company reported earnings that beat analyst expectations, as it cut costs. Health care stocks had some of the biggest gains of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.77 percent from 2.75 percent. The price of oil rose $1.69, or 1.8 percent, to $97.41 a barrel. Gold fell $11.10, or 0.9 percent, to $1,252.70 an ounce.