4:12 PM, Aug 25, 2009 --
-NYSE up 26.07 (0.4%) to 6,697.21.
-DJIA up 30.01 (0.3%) to 9,539.
-S&P 500 up 2.43 (0.2%) to 1,028.
-Nasdaq up 6.25 (0.3%) to 2,024.
Hang Seng down 0.49%
Nikkei down 0.79%
FTSE up 0.42%
(+) GOOG gets upgrade.
(+) HGSI gains on expectations White House could speed up flu vaccine supplies, speculation of possible M&A deal.
(+) VOD gets analyst upgrade.
(+) GNVC gets grant to support novel cell line development.
(+) AIS launches Tjet needle-free injector system.
(+) BIG beats with Q2 EPS.
(+) BKC tops with results.
(+) SAFM beats with Q3 results.
(+) SI gets upgrade.
(+) PLX gets FDA fast track status for Gaucher disease treatment.
(+) COCO beats with Q4 results.
(-) BCRX sees no upside from administration plans to speed up swine flu shots
(-) SYY schedules IRS payment.
(-) AIR guides for Q1 miss.
(-) MDT turns lower after initial gains when company beats with results.
Stock averages end higher though in the bottom end of the day's range, boosted by consumer and housing data and the renomination of Fed chief Ben Bernanke. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has now advanced for six straight sessions.
Financial, retailers, homebuilders and other consumer stocks were firmer, while energy and utility shares fell. Tech shares were mostly firmer. The broader stock market held its upside after an auction of 2-year Treasury notes drew respectable demand.
Stocks started the day on firmer footing when investors reacted positively to President Barack Obama's reappointment of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Bernanke's new term, which still has to be confirmed by the Senate, removed a big block of uncertainty from the market. Bernanke, though not without his critics, has moved aggressively to limit the current financial crisis, which could have triggered a second depression. He's generally received good marks from Wall Street even though the S&P 500 is down some 20% since Bernanke took the helm at the bank.
Economic news also supported the day's advance.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index rose 1.4 percent in the second quarter from the January-March period, the first quarterly increase in three years. Home prices, while still down almost 15 percent from last year, are at levels last seen in early 2003, the AP said. Prices have fallen 30% from the peak in the Q2 2006.
Improving news on the housing front was followed by the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index reading, which jumped to 54.1 in August from 47.4 in July, sending all the three major indexes higher. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected the index to rise to 47.5. A reading above 90 generally means the economy is on solid footing and consumers are happy.
Separately, the Congressional Budget Office projected the economy to grow at 1.6% in the second half of the year, although it will be down overall on the full year. GDP is expected to increase by 2.0% in 2010, according to the White House, which also projected a slightly lower deficit this year.
Crude oil closed down 3.1% at $72.05 a barrel after hitting the highs of the year above $74 a barrel on Monday.
4:12 PM, Aug 25, 2009 --