Seeking Alpha
Profile| Send Message|
( followers)  
  • DJIA up 96.88 (+0.78%) to 12,578.95
  • S&P 500 up 14.37 (+1.1%) to 1,308.04
  • Nasdaq up 41.63 (+1.53%) to 2,769.71

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

  • Nikkei up 1.0%.
  • Hang Seng up 0.3%.
  • Shanghai Composite down 1.4%.
  • FTSE-100 up 0.1%.

Stocks closed higher today, finishing near their session highs and paced by rising optimism among homebuilders and semiconductor makers.

Earlier today, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index showed a four point increase in builder confidence to 25, the highest level since June 2007. An upbeat forecast by Linear Technology (NASDAQ:LLTC) also worked to spark a rally for semiconductor-makers.

Also today, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today said a settlement is "very close" in talks between the government and banks as part of an investigation into faulty foreclosure practices. About one million borrowers are expected to benefit from principal reductions as part of the deal. Donovan made his remarks at Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday it likely will need to raise another $500 billion for loans to struggling European countries in order to avert a larger crisis. Becuase more solvent economies have already pledged about $200 billion to the IMF, the $500 billion goal was seen to be within range, buoying trader moods today.

Tempering that optimism, however, was news of The World Bank overnight trimmed its forecast for 2012 global growth to 5.4% from 6.2%.

In company news, Transcanada (NYSE:TRP) was lower this afternoon after reports broke saying the Obama administration will decide to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. The decision will be announced later today or tomorrow with the administration letting TransCanada submit a new application for an alternate pipeline route, Bloomberg News reported, citing two people familiar with the administration plans.

Light, sweet crude oil for February delivery settled 11 cents lower at $100.60 a barrel, after trading slightly higher most of the morning. Natural gas was down $1.1 cents at $2.47 per million British thermal units, according to preliminary numbers from the CME Group. Gold for Feburary delivery edged $2.50 higher to $1,658.10 an ounce.

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) YHOO Co-founder quits, possibly clearing way to spin-offs, private equity investment

(+) UEPS Wins 5-year contract to distribute social grants in South Africa

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) RIMM, Samsung denies buy-out talks.

(-) BXS, Bank's profits drop, schedules offering to sell stock

Source: Homebuilders, Chip Makers Carry Stocks Higher