Dow +178.83 (+1.45%)
Nasdaq +53.89 (+2.32%)
S&P 500 +18.35 (+1.36%)
News That Moved the Market
Retail Sales Shines. A better than expected retail sales figure fueled another rally Wednesday, the third gain in as many days for the Dow. The Commerce Department announced retail sales jumped by 0.3%, well ahead of the 0.3% decline expected. Auto and gasoline sales were the main catalysts for the number beating expectations. Though auto companies reported earlier in February that monthly sales declined from last month, the report showed motor vehicle sales increased by 0.6% by dollar value. On the news, markets traded higher, as investors seemed convinced that they can rely on the American consumer, even in such trying circumstances.
NY State Attorney General Targets Health Insurers. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced plans to sue UnitedHealth Group (UNH, -2.7%), the U.S.'s largest health insurer, and subpoena 16 other insurers to investigate illegitimate reimbursement practices. Cuomo said UnitedHealth limited payments to customers by claiming their medical charges were too high.
News Corp and Yahoo in Talks. In a new wrinkle to the story, Yahoo (YHOO, +1.0%) is now in talks with News Corp. (NWS, -0.5%) about a potential strategic alliance to fend off Microsoft's (MSFT, +2.2%) bid. Rupert Murdoch's media giant is exploring merging some of its online properties, including MySpace, with Yahoo in exchanging for a stake possibly greater than 20%. Details of the potential deal are still unclear, but it is hard to see News Corp. going through with a deal, especially because it is already struggling to integrate the Wall Street Journal.
Bush Signs Stimulus Plan. President Bush signed into law the $168 billion stimulus plan aimed to help the U.S. economy avoid a recession. Expect to receive rebates some time in May.
Notable Earnings (Full List Here):
Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) Before Open
UBS (UBS) Before Open
8:30 AM: Jobless Claims
8:30 AM: Trade Balance