(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a modestly higher note as investors digested weak quarterly results and guidance from several companies, including International Business Machines Corp. and Intel.
The S&P 500 Index rose 0.41 percent to end at 1,460.91. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.04 percent to finish at 13,557. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.10 percent to close at 3,104.12.
On the domestic data front, housing starts in the United States rose 15 percent to 872,000 for September, a four-year high. Permits for future building construction increased 11.6 percent to 894,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Economists' expected housing starts at 770,000 and building permits of 810,000.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: IBM, INTC, EBAY, TXT, APOL, DF, STJ, ABT, FTNT, CREE, CYMI
In corporate news, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) dropped 4.91 percent after the technology bellwether reduced its earnings guidance for 2012 following lower-than-expected revenue for the third quarter.
Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) lost 2.51 percent after the world's largest chip maker reported a fall in quarterly earnings and revenue as macro-economic concerns continue to mute growth and recovery in the semiconductor sector. Results, though, topped market expectations.
eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY), an online auction site, reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, boosted by strong performance of its PayPal and marketplaces businesses. The company also raised its forecast for 2012.
Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) retreated 5.71 percent after the aviation company posted lower-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue amid weak business jet demand and lower volumes. The company lifted its 2012 forecast that trailed market projections.
Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) plunged 22.01 percent after the private education provider offered a weak guidance for 2013. The company's quarterly earnings tumbled 60 percent on a 14 percent reduction in new enrollment in its University of Phoenix business.
Dean Foods Co. (NYSE: DF) surged 12.77 percent after its WhiteWave Foods Co. subsidiary filed to to raise up to $320 million in an initial public offering.
St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE: STJ) fell 4.87 percent after the company posted lower quarterly earnings amid a drop sales of its ICD and pacemaker products and the medical device maker guided fourth quarter slightly below consensus. The company might receive a warning letter from the U.S. health regulators about its Sylmar, California manufacturing plant, its Chief Executive Officer Dan Starks said.
Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) fell 4.28 percent after the company's quarterly revenue trailed market expectations. The company narrowed its ongoing earnings guidance for 2012 and announced job cuts.
Fortinet Inc. (NASDAQ: FTNT) slumped 18.79 percent after the network security services provider lowered its 2012 forecast and offered a downbeat guidance for the fourth quarter.
Cree Inc. (NASDAQ: CREE) jumped 10.43 percent after the maker of LED diodes posted a jump in first-quarter profit on double-digit growth in revenue and margin improvement.
Cymer Inc. (NASDAQ: CYMI) spiked 49.38 percent after the supplier of light sources for chip manufacturing agreed to be acquired for $2.55 billion by Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML Holding NV.
European markets ended higher amid reports that Spain is close to making a request for a bailout. Germany's DAX gained 0.25 percent to close at 7,394.55. France's CAC40 advanced 0.76 percent to finish at 3,527.50. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.69 percent to end at 5,910.91.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index added 0.32 percent to end at 2,105.62. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.21 percent to finish at 8.806.55. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.99 percent to close at 21,416.64. India's BSE Sensex finished at 18,610.77, up 0.18 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Crude oil futures declined 0.10 percent to $92.00 per barrel, while natural gas futures rose 0.79 percent to $3.464 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures gained 0.21 percent to $1,750 per ounce and silver futures added 0.70 percent to $33.19 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.54 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3124. The British pound advanced 0.24 percent against the greenback to 1.6150, and the dollar added 0.10 percent against the Japanese yen to 78.9700.