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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

The close: S&P 500 rises, ending two-day slide Add to ...

Stocks rose modestly on Wednesday, with U.S. indexes breaking a two-day losing streak that began after the benchmark index hit a five-year high.

The S&P 500 closed at 1461.02, up 3.87 points or 0.3 per cent. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,390.51, up 61.66 points or 0.5 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,522.24, up 17.43 points or 0.1 per cent.

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The gains follow the start of the fourth-quarter reporting season, when Alcoa Inc. kicked things off on Tuesday evening after markets closed. Its share price fell 0.2 per cent after reporting operating earnings that were in line with analyst expectations.

Boeing Co. rose 3.6 per cent after Asian customers stood by the aerospace company, despite three mishaps affecting its new 787 Dreamliner.

Morgan Stanley fell 0.2 per cent after it said it would slash 1,600 investment banking jobs.

American International Group Inc. rose 0.3 per cent. The company, famously bailed out by the U.S. government during the depths of the financial crisis, announced that it would not join a lawsuit against the U.S. government. The lawsuit was filed by former AIG chief executive Hank Greenberg, who argues that the bailout was unfair to shareholders.

Herbalife Ltd. rose 4.2 per cent after hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb bet big that the nutritional supplements company will not be shut down by the Federal Trade Commission over allegations by investor Bill Ackman that it operates a pyramid scheme. However, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission has launched a probe into Herbalife.

Among commodities, crude oil fell to $93.10 (U.S.) a barrel, down 5 cents. Gold fell to $1,655.50 an ounce, down $6.70.

TransCanada Corp. rose 2.4 per cent after Progress Energy Canada Ltd. chose the pipeline company to build a $5-billion, 750-kilometre natural gas pipeline in British Columbia.

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