Stocks shook off a lacklustre start on Tuesday, ending the day with solid gains as U.S. markets reopened following a three-day weekend and investors digested earnings and U.S. home sales.
The S&P 500 closed at 1492.51, up 6.53 points or 0.4 per cent. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,712.13, up 62.43 points or 0.5 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,824.63, up 30.38 points or 0.2 per cent.
U.S. existing home sales fell 1 per cent in December over the previous month, disappointing expectations for a 1.2 per cent gain. However, economists pointed out that the three-month trend was still up, while sales have risen 12.8 per cent over last year, to a five-year high – providing plenty of evidence that the housing market is on the mend.
Upbeat earnings provided some of the market gains. DuPont rose 1.8 per cent and Travelers Companies rose 2.2 per cent after reporting their respective fourth-quarter results.
Johnson & Johnson fell 0.7 per cent after it reported operating earnings of $1.19 a share, up from $1.13, beating expectations. However, sales disappointed expectations and the company delivered a weaker-than-expected forecast for 2013.
Dell Inc. rose 2.2 per cent after CNBC reported that Microsoft Corp. is considering providing up to $3-billion (U.S.) in financing as part of the rumoured buyout of the computer maker. Microsoft shares fell 0.4 per cent.
After markets closed, Google Inc. said that its fourth-quarter net income rose to $2.9-bilion or $8.62 a share, up from $8.22 a share last year. After excluding some one-time items, earnings were $10.65 a share, beating the $10.50 estimate from analysts. The shares fell 0.2 per cent during regular trading, but rose about 4 per cent in after hours trading.
Canadian National Railway Co. fell 1 per cent after it reported a fourth-quarter profit of $610-million (Canadian) or $1.41 a share, up from $1.32. The company also boosted its dividend by 15 per cent.
Research In Motion Ltd. rose 1.9 per cent after rallying more than 10 per cent on Monday, when the company’s chief executive said in a German publication that the BlackBerry maker was still considering strategic options.
Commodities moved higher. Crude oil rose to $96.68 (U.S.) a barrel, up 64 cents and touching its highest level since September. Gold rose to its highest level in a month, hitting $1,693.20 an ounce, up $6.20.