Stocks posted solid gains for a third straight day on Wednesday, helped by some decent economic numbers. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 162 points, the Standard Poor’s 500 index (^GPSC) rose 19, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 52 points.
The Dow was led by its old-line companies after the Fed reported a stronger-than-expected increase in industrial production in March, and Fed Chief Janet Yellen made dovish comments during a speech in New York.
Boeing (BA), Exxon (XOM), Chevron (CVX), United Technologies (UTX) and 3M (MMM) all gained more than 1 percent. Financial stocks were also strong performers. Visa (V) gained 2 percent; Goldman Sachs (GS) and American Express (AXP) rose more than 1 percent.
But the blue chip loser of the day award goes to United Healthcare (UNH). It fell 1½ percent after Citigroup cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “buy.”
The other big story was earnings.
Yahoo (YHOO) jumped 6 percent. Its results were okay, but the focus was on soaring sales and profit at the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Yahoo owns a 24 percent stake in it, and stands to make a big profit when Alibaba goes public later this year.
PNC (PNC), a major regional bank, gained nearly 3 percent after topping expectations.
But industry giant Bank of America (BAC), which sponsors this report, fell 1½ percent. It posted a loss due to huge charge related to legal settlements.
Also, CSX (CSX) fell nearly 2 percent. Its net fell, hurt by weather-related disruptions to its rail operations.
And biotechs were generally higher. Regeneron (RGEN) gained 4 percent on some positive brokerage comments about its cholesterol-fighting drug that’s expected to hit the market later this year.
But Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) lost another 4½ percent Wednesday. This week alone, it’s down 21 percent.
Finally, Sodastream (SODA) jumped 8 percent on reports that it’s in talks to sell a big stake to an unidentified strategic partner, possible PepsiCo (PEP). Earlier this year, rival Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) linked up with Coca-Cola (KO).
What to Watch Thursday:
- The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
- At 10 a.m., the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia releases its monthly survey of regional manufacturing conditions, and Freddie Mac reports weekly mortgage rates.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
- Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
- Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG)
- DuPont (DD)
- Fifth Third Bank (FITB)
- General Electric (GE)
- Goldman Sachs (GS)
- PepsiCo (PEP)
- Sherwin Williams (SHW)
–Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.