(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed sharply higher as investors weighed a set of upbeat corporate earnings reports and Dell's agreement to be taken private.
The S&P 500 Index rose 1.04 percent to end at 1,511.29. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.71 percent to finish at 13,979.30. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 1.29 percent to close at 3,171.58.
On the domestic data front, the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) non-manufacturing index edged down to 55.2 in January from 55.7 for December. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
Other reports of interest due to be released over the week include the weekly jobless claims and the Commerce Department's trade balance.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: BP, DELL, GILD, YUM, BIDU, MHP, CSC, EL, VMED
BP Plc (NYSE: BP) advanced 1.35 percent after the U.K.-based oil and gas giant posted better-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter.
Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) added 1.13 percent after the PC maker agreed to be taken private in a deal worth roughly $24.4 billion or $13.65 per share in cash in the largest leveraged buyout since the global financial crisis.
Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) rose 2.40 percent after the biopharmaceutical company reported a 14.6 percent increase in quarterly earnings on higher product sales backed by HIV treating antiviral franchise. Results exceeded Wall Street expectations.
Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) shed 2.91 percent after the the parent of KFC and Pizza Hut said it no longer expects to achieve earnings per share growth in 2013 amid a sharp decline in China KFC sales.
Baidu.com Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU) slumped 10.10 percent after the Chinese search engine reported slowing online marketing revenue growth for the fourth quarter compared with prior periods.
McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. (NYSE: MHP) plunged 10.70 percent after the Justice Department sued S&P over its mortgage bond ratings. MHP is the parent of the S&P's ratings agency.
Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE: CSC) surged 9.16 percent after the IT services provider boosted its 2013 earnings forecast and reported quarterly profit on higher revenue from its business solutions and services segment as well as lower costs and expenses.
Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL) jumped 6.00 percent after the maker of skin care and fragrance products, posted better-than-expected quarterly results on sales gains in each of its geographic regions and major product categories.
Virgin Media Inc. (NASDAQ: VMED) surged 17.89 percent after the provider of broadband services confirmed that it is in talks with Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ: LBTYA) concerning a possible transaction.
European markets ended in green, with Germany's DAX up 0.35 percent to close at 7,664.66. France's CAC40 added 0.95 percent to finish at 3,694.70. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.58 percent to end at 6,282.76.
Asian markets closed mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index rising 0.20 percent to close at 2,433.13. Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 1.90 percent to finish at 11,046.92. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 2.27 percent to end at 23,148.53. India's BSE Sensex ended 0.46 percent lower at 19,659.82.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures added 0.50 percent to $96.65 per barrel and natural gas futures climbed 2.96 percent to $3.41 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures slid 0.17 percent to $1,673.60 per ounce while silver futures advanced 0.36 percent to $31.83 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro added 0.47 percent against the U.S. dollar at 1.3578. The British pound shed 0.65 percent against the greenback to 1.5657, while the dollar jumped 1.24 percent against the Japanese yen to 93.5300.