(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed in green after positive results and outlook from Alcoa Inc. (AA) buoyed optimism about the corporate earnings season.
The S&P 500 Index rose 0.27 percent to end at 1,461.02. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.46 percent to finish at 13,390.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.45 percent to close at 3,105.81.
Earnings season got under way with bellwether Alcoa posting its quarterly results after the close of trading on Tuesday. The largest U.S. producer of aluminum reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue. The company, which named William Oplinger its CFO, also forecast global aluminum demand growth of 7 percent from 6 percent in 2012.
[Related -Fusion-IO, Inc. (FIO): Can Fusion-IO Q2 Results Cheer Street?]
New York-based Alcoa's results are eyed closely as it usually is the first Dow component to report earnings, and investors often watch AA's results to gauge how earnings may fare for other companies. Moreover, the results always impact the broader market, including index futures and ETFs.
There were no major U.S. economic data released on Wednesday.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: CLWR, FB, APOL, STX, HLF, GPN, WDFC, NUVA, HELE
In corporate news, Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) surged 7.19 percent after the provider of fourth generation (4G) wireless broadband services announced an unsolicited buyout proposal of $3.30 per share from DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) that topped Sprint Nextel Corp.'s (NYSE: S) $2.97 a share offer last month.
[Related -Do Earnings Mean Anything Anymore?]
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) jumped 5.26 percent after the social networking giant issued a media invitation that read "Come and see what we're building."
Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL) plunged 7.74 percent after the private education provider reported a drop in first quarter adjusted earnings due to lower enrollment and the company narrowed its full year revenue forecast.
Seagate Technology Plc (NASDAQ: STX) added 6.64 percent after the Ireland-based maker of hard disk drives raised its revenue forecast for the second quarter.
Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) gained 4.17 percent after Daniel Loeb's Third Point disclosed a 8 percent stake in the nutritional supplements company. Activist investor Loeb acquired 8.9 million HLF shares, a day before Herbalife hosts an analyst and investor meeting to respond to allegations by Pershing Square's Bill Ackman who had said the company is a pyramid scheme.
Global Payments Inc. (NYSE: GPN) posted better-than-expected results for the second quarter and the payments processor announced an additional $150 million share repurchase program. Shares added 6.06 percent.
Helen of Troy Ltd. (NASDAQ: HELE) rose 2.68 percent after the company posted a rise in earnings and sales for the third quarter amid improvement of margins, though the consumer products company reduced its sales forecast for the full year.
WD-40 Co. (NASDAQ: WDFC) soared 9.92 percent after the consumer products company reported higher quarterly earnings and sales that topped Wall Street projections amid expansion of margins.
NuVasive Inc. (NASDAQ: NUVA) spiked 10.79 percent after the medical device company raised its 2012 revenue forecast and guided 2013 above market expectations.
European markets closed higher, with Germany's DAX up 0.32 percent to close at 7,720.47. France's CAC40 inched 0.31 percent higher to finish at 3,717.45. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 advanced 0.74 percent to end at 6,098.65.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index dipped 0.03 percent to close at 2,275.34. Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.67 percent to finish at 10,578.57. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.46 percent to end at 23,218.47. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,666.59, down 0.38 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures slid 0.03 percent to $93.12 per barrel, and natural gas futures fell 2.89 percent to $3.13 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures dipped 0.28 percent to $1,657.40 per ounce and silver futures fell 0.39 percent to $30.34 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro fell 0.14 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3063. The British pound dropped 0.19 percent against the greenback to 1.6026, while the dollar rose 0.84 percent against the Japanese yen to 87.7800.