(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a positive note after readings on consumer sentiment and leading economic indicators came in better than expected.
S&P 500 Index gained 0.19 percent to close at 1,418.16. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.19 percent to end at 13,275.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.46 percent to finish at 3,076.59.
On the economic front, a preliminary index of the Reuters and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment rose to 73.6 for August - its highest level since May - from 72.3 in the prior month. The index also came in above economists expectations of a reading of 72.
The Conference Board's U.S. leading economic indicators index rose 0.4 percent for July reversing a drop of 0.4 percent in June, also topping forecasts of an increase of 0.2 percent.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: AAPL, MRVL, GRPN, ARO, ANN, SJM, GPS, FL, DRYS, HIBB, BRCD
In corporate news, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares hit a record high of $645.48 in mid-day trade amid speculation the technology behemoth is preparing to unveil a smaller iPad next month. Brokerage Jefferies increased its price target on the stock to $900. Shares ended 1.85 percent higher.
Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL) tumbled 14.17 percent after the chipmaker posted second-quarter earnings that more than halved as sales fell 9 percent and margins shrank amid slowdown in the macro-economic environment.
Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE:ARO) retreated 11.13 percent after the mall-based, specialty retailer issued a downbeat guidance for the third quarter following lower-than-expected sales for the second quarter.
Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ:GRPN) lost 5.00 percent. Shares of the daily-deal website were downgraded "underweight" from "equal weight" by Evercore Partners.
Ann Inc. (NYSE:ANN) soared 20.43 percent after the retailer of women apparel posted second-quarter results that beat market expectations on strong margins and it raised its forecast for 2012.
J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE:SJM) jumped 5.05 percent after the company posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings, and the maker of branded food products expects full-year earnings at the higher end of its guidance.
Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS) advanced 4.80 percent after the apparel retailer reported a jump in quarterly earnings helped by strong sales across its segments and that it raised its 2012 earnings outlook.
Foot Locker Inc. (NYSE:FL) added 1.74 percent after the retailer of athletic footwear and apparel reported stronger-than-forecast quarterly earnings, helped by 9.8 percent jump in comparable store sales and improvement in margins.
DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ:DRYS) shed 3.46 percent after the owner of drybulk carriers posted quarterly revenue that missed consensus estimates amid weak shipping rates.
Hibbett Sports Inc. (NASDAQ:HIBB) retreated 4.17 percent after the company's quarterly sales fell short of market expectations. HIBB increased its guidance after the company reported higher quarterly earnings on growth in sales and expansion of margins.
Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:BRCD) advanced 2.31 percent after the supplier of networking equipment's third-quarter results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The company said its chief executive Michael Klayko plans to resign once a successor is identified.
European markets closed in green, with Germany's DAX adding 0.64 percent to close at 7,040.88. France's CAC40 advanced 0.23 percent to finish at 3,488.38. U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.31 percent to end at 5,852.42.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index inched up 0.13 percent to finish at 2,114.89. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.77 percent to end at 9,162.50. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.77 percent to end at 20,116.07. India's BSE Sensex finished at 17,691.08, up 0.19 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Crude oil futures rose 0.61 percent to $96.180 per barrel and natural gas futures added 0.22 percent to $2.730 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures edged down 0.10 percent to $1,617.6 per ounce and silver futures declined 0.77 percent to $28.080 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro dipped 0.19 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2333. The British pound shed 0.24 percent against the greenback to 1.5696, while the dollar gained 0.25 percent against the Japanese yen to 79.5500.