(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a sharply higher note, as investors cheered strong corporate earnings, led by Apple.
S&P 500 Index added 1.37 percent to finish at 1,390.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.69 percent to end at 13,090.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 3,029.63, climbing up 2.30 percent.
Markets gave a muted reaction to the policy statement from the Federal Reserve, which reiterated its promise to keep interest rates low at least through late 2014. The Fed said the economy has been expanding moderately and it expects economic growth to remain moderate over coming quarters and then to pick up gradually. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank remains prepared to take additional action if needed to strengthen the economy.
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On the economic data front, a report showed that durable goods orders for March dropped 4.2 percent, following a 1.9 percent rise in February. Excluding transportation, new orders dipped 1.1 percent. Economists expected a 2 percent rise in orders, and an increase of 0.6 percent, excluding transportation.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: AAPL, CAT, BA, AFL, GLW, JNPR, CRAY
In corporate news, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) jumped 8.87 percent after reporting stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings, helped by strong sales of iPhones and iPads. EPS nearly doubled to $12.30 from $6.40 as revenue soared 59 percent to $39.2 billion in the second quarter. The company's iPhone sales soared 88 percent to 35.1 million units, and iPad sales surged 151 percent to 11.8 million units.
Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) lost 4.58 percent after the maker of earth-moving machinery quarterly revenue missed consensus. The company also earnings forecast that fell shy of market expectations. CAT expects sales in the developing countries will be lower than expected, with most of the weakness in China and Brazil.
Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) advanced 5.29 percent after aerospace giant boosted its 2012 earnings forecast following better-than-expected quarterly results, driven by strong commercial airplane deliveries. BA now expects EPS in the range of $4.15 to $4.35 for 2012.
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