Strong corporate earnings, economic data help to stabilize stock market
NEW YORK — It was a stock market reversal.
Stocks rose sharply on Thursday, with large parts of the market erasing Wednesday's losses, as investors cheered a batch of strong earnings and data that showed the economy grew at a robust annual rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter.
Investors also got a welcome respite from the recent turmoil in overseas markets, particularly in Turkey and Argentina.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 19.99 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,794.19, with all 10 sectors of the index closing higher. That more than made up the 18.29 points the index lost on Wednesday.
The Nasdaq composite jumped 71.69 points, or 1.8 percent, to 4,123.13. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 109.82 points, or 0.7 percent, to 15,848.61.
Facebook jumped $7.55, or 14 percent, to $61.08. The social media company reported results late Wednesday that exceeded the expectations of financial analysts. Facebook's adjusted profit was 31 cents per share, four cents better than forecast.
It wasn't all good news out of the technology sector. Amazon.com sank in after-hours trading as it released results that fell short of expectations. The stock of the online retailing pioneer dropped $35.47, or 9 percent, to $367.54.
In other earnings news, Visa rose $3.76, or 2 percent, to $220.88 after the company reported a 9 percent rise in first-quarter profits, beating expectations.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals was the biggest advancer in the S&P 500, rising $28.27, or 21 percent, to $162. The company beat analysts' expectations and gave a strong 2014 outlook.
Alexion helped lift the stocks of other drugmakers. Dow members Merck and Pfizer each rose more than 2 percent. Specialized drugmakers Gilead Sciences and Biogen were up 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
Even with Thursday's upturn, the broader trend in the market appears to be downward, strategists say. The Dow has risen only two out of the last eight trading days.
“I'm pretty focused on corporate earnings, and that's about it,” said Ian Winer, director of trading at Wedbush Securities. “Earnings have been OK, but not all that great. I think we're going lower, and I think (the sell-off this month) is just the beginning.”
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