(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed in green as a set of better-than-expected housing and labor market data offset disappointing earnings reports from major banks.
The S&P 500 Index rose 0.56 percent to end at 1,480.94. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.63 percent to finish at 13,596.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.59 percent to close at 3,136.
On the domestic economic front, the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits dropped more than expected, a government data showed. Jobless claims fell 37,000 to 335,000 for the week ended Jan. 12 from a revised 372,000, while economists projected 365,000 applications.
Another reported showed housing starts in the United States rose 12.0 percent to 954,000 for December, while permits for future building construction inched 0.3 percent higher to 903,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Economists' expected housing starts at 890,000 and building permits of 903,000.
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The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Manufacturing Index showed a reading of a negative 5.8 in January from a positive 4.6 in December.
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In corporate news, Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) shed 4.24 percent after the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said fourth-quarter earnings declined 63 percent reflecting lower revenue and settlements with Fannie Mae.
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Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) retreated 2.92 percent after the banking giant reported lower-than-expected fourth quarter earnings and revenues on higher legal costs and a lower net loan loss reserve release.
eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) gained 2.40 percent after the online auction site posted quarterly earnings and revenue that beat market expectations, boosted by strong performance of its PayPal and marketplaces businesses. The company guided first quarter below consensus.
BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK) gained 4.39 percent after the investment management firm posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings, as strength in base fees and higher performance fees drove a 14 percent rise in revenue.
CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) surged 7.93 percent after the mass media company said it will convert its outdoor Americas division into a real estate investment trust and plans to pursue a sale of its outdoor business in Europe and Asia.
Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: NUS) jumped 7.62 percent after the developer of anti-aging personal care products issued an upbeat fourth-quarter guidance.
Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) retreated 3.42 percent. The nutritional supplements company raised its fourth-quarter earnings estimate and said there is the likelihood of a temporary increase in expenses, associated with recent events.
VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) fell 4.19 percent after Brean Capital downgraded the stock to "sell" from "hold".
iGATE Corp. (NASDAQ: IGTE) surged 6.37 percent after the outsourcing provider of IT services reported a jump in quarterly earnings on lower expenses.
European markets closed higher, with Germany's DAX up 0.58 percent to close at 7,735.46. France's CAC40 gained 0.96 percent to finish at 3,744.11. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 added 0.46 percent to end at 6,132.36.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index fell 1.06 percent to close at 2,284.91. Japan's Nikkei 225 inched 0.09 percent higher to finish at 10,609.64. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped 0.07 percent to end at 23,339.76. India's BSE Sensex ended 0.74 percent higher at 19,974.03.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures added 1.17 percent to $95.34 per barrel and natural gas futures gained 1.60 percent to $3.49 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures inched up 0.22 percent to $1,686.80 per ounce and silver futures rose 0.60 percent to $31.73 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro gained 0.66 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3377. The British pound lost 0.05 percent against the greenback to 1.5999, while the dollar jumped 1.66 percent against the Japanese yen to 89.8500.