(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a higher note after a data showed that manufacturing in the world's largest economy expanded last month at a faster pace in nearly a year.
S&P 500 Index added 0.57 percent to finish at 1,405.82. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.50 percent to end at 13,279.40. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 3,050.44, up 0.13 percent.
The Institute for Supply Management reported that its purchasing managers index advanced to 54.8 in April from 53.4 in March, while economists expected a reading of 53.0. Meanwhile, construction spending inched 0.1 percent higher in March, versus expectations for a 0.5 percent increase.
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In corporate news, Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHK) jumped 5.9 percent after Oklahoma-based natural gas and oil explorer announced it will name an independent, non-executive Chairman to replace Aubrey McClendon. The company also agreed with McClendon to early termination of a controversial program related to McClendon minority stakes in the company's wells.
Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:SHLD) spiked 15.49 percent after the operator of Kmart and Sears stores anticipates to report first-quarter earnings driven by a gain from the sale of some U.S. and Canadian stores.
P.F. Chang's China Bistro (NASDAQ:PFCB) shot up 29.6 percent after the restaurant chain agreed to be bought for $51.50 per share or about $1.1 billion in cash by private investment company Centerbridge Partners, L.P. The company also posted a fall in quarterly earnings.
Avon Products Inc. (NYSE:AVP) slumped 8.01 percent after the maker of beauty products posted a decline in quarterly earnings and sales amid a sharp drop in margins. Excluding charges, EPS from continuing operations was 10 cents, down from 37 cents last year. Gross margin shrank by 310 basis points.
Huntsman Corp. (NYSE:HUN) added 9.4 percent after the chemical company posted a jump in first-quarter earnings.