U.S. stocks ended on a mixed note, with the S&P 500 index closed on track for its best week in three months, after the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer-sentiment index declined despite in-line CPI data.
S&P 500 Index gained 0.11 percent to finish at 1,404.16. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.15 percent to end at 13,232.55. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 3,055.26, down 0.04 percent.
On the economic front, consumer price index for the month of February rose 0.4%, in-line with expectations, and on a year-over-year basis, CPI increased 2.9%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The gasoline index rose sharply in February, accounting for over 80% of the change in the all items index.
The food index, which rose 0.2% in January, was unchanged in February. The energy index rose 3.2% in February after a 0.2% increase in January. The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1% in February after increasing 0.2% in January.
The core CPI rose 0.1% that was lower than consensus expectations of 0.2%. Core CPI was up 2.2% from last year.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index in early March slipped to 74.3 from 75.3, lower than economists' forecasts of 75.7.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: (ARP, COGO, PWRD, PRMW, ITRI)
In corporate news, Atlas Resource Partners, L.P. (NYSE:ARP) ended 31.60 percent higher at $28.31, after the company agreed to buy about 277 bcfe of proved reserves, including undeveloped drilling locations, in the Barnett Shale in Texas from Carrizo Oil & Gas (NASDAQ:CRZO) for about $190 million, or $0.69 per mcfe.
Cogo Group Inc. (NASDAQ:COGO) closed 59.79 percent higher at $3.10, after the company's founder and CEO Jeffrey Kang has proposed to acquire a series of operating entities accounting for about 30% of Cogo's total assets, liabilities and revenue through his personal investment venture, Envision Global Group. The purchase price is expected to be between $60 million and $82 million, depending on the results of an assessment by an appraisal firm. The deal is expected to close during the second quarter 2012.
Perfect World Co., Ltd. (NASDAQ:PWRD) closed 27.57 percent higher at $16.01, after the company's fourth quarter results. Adjusted earnings were $0.94 per American Depository Share on revenue of $123.4 million. Looking ahead into the first quarter, the company expects revenue of 714 million Renminbi to 753 million Renminbi, representing a mild decline on a sequential basis.
Primo Water Corp. (NASDAQ:PRMW) ended 29.45 percent lower at $2.06, after the company guided first quarter and fiscal 2012 results below Street's view.
Itron, Inc.(NASDAQ:ITRI) ended 4.86 percent lower at $44.65. Spanish energy company Iberdola said it wouldn't buy meters from Itron for the initial phase of its smart grid project in Spain. Iberdola said it would buy 1 million smart meters from seven companies for the project, but didn't name Itron as one of the seven suppliers, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
The European markets finished higher, with Germany's DAX gaining 0.19 percent to end at 7,157.82. France's CAC40 rose 0.41 percent to finish at 3,594.83. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.42 percent to close at 5,965.58.
Asia markets ended on a mixed note. The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.30 percent to end at $2,404.74. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.17 percent to close at 21,317.85. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.06 percent to end at 10,129.83. India's Sensex closed 1.19 percent down at 17,466.20.
Crude oil futures advanced 1.86 percent to $107.06 per barrel, and natural gas price advanced 2.81 percent to $2.34 per million metric British thermal units. Gold fell 0.07 percent to $1,658.30 per ounce, and silver decreased 0.37 percent to $32.605 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro traded 0.67 percent lower against the U.S. dollar to $1.3168. The British pound declined 0.71 percent against the greenback to 1.5827, while the dollar traded 0.22 percent lower against the Japanese yen to 83.3650.