(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended on a positive note after a report showed that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply for the month of December.
The S&P 500 Index rose 0.57 percent to end at 1,517.92. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.35 percent to finish at 13,992.97. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.91 percent to close at 3,193.87.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that U.S. trade deficit for December narrowed to $38.5 billion from a revised $48.6 billion in November, while economists expected trade gap to shrink to $46.0 billion.
A data showed Chinese exports rose 25 percent in January and imports grew 28.8 percent, with both numbers coming in better than expectations. Germany's exports increased 0.3 percent in December, slower than expectations of an increase of 1.4 percent.
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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) rose 1.44 percent after the Cupertino, California-based technology behemoth said it would evaluate a proposal by hedge-fund activist David Einhorn to issue some form of preferred stock.
Linkedin Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) surged 21.27 percent after the online professional-networking service reported upbeat quarterly results amid a jump in membership.
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Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) gained 11.19 percent after the video-game maker posted a jump in fourth-quarter earnings that also topped market expectations.
Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) tumbled 18.53 percent after the developer of speech-recognition software posted a quarterly loss amid higher costs. Needham, Craig-Hallum and Stifel Nicolaus downgraded the stock.
Microchip Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MCHP) jumped 7.22 percent after the maker of microcontrollers posted upbeat quarterly results and issued guidance above consensus.
Hasbro Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) added 2.89 percent after the toy maker boosted its quarterly dividend by 11 percent. The company posted lower quarterly earnings that however beat Wall Street projections.
AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) rose 7.35 percent after the Web services company reported higher earnings for the fourth quarter as the company posted revenue growth for the first time in 8 years boosted by gains in advertising revenue.
Riverbed Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: RVBD) plunged 17.61 percent after the maker of network gear offered a downbeat forecast for the first quarter.
Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO) advanced 2.44 percent after the asset manager reported a sharp increase in fourth-quarter net income.
Coinstar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSTR) lost 6.97 percent after the owner of the Redbox movie-rental kiosks issued a weak guidance for the first quarter.
European markets closed in green, with Germany's DAX up 0.81 percent to close at 7,652.14. France's CAC40 added 1.35 percent to finish at 3,649.50. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.57 percent to end at 6,263.93.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index rose 0.57 percent to close at 2,432.40. Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 1.80 percent to finish at 11,153.16. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.16 percent to end at 23,215.16. India's BSE Sensex ended 0.49 percent lower at 19,484.77.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures dipped 0.02 percent to $95.82 per barrel and natural gas futures lost 0.58 percent to $3.30 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures shed 0.13 percent to $1,669.10 per ounce while silver futures rose 0.18 percent to $31.46 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro lost 0.25 percent against the U.S. dollar at 1.3365. The British pound added 0.50 percent against the greenback to 1.5795, while the dollar dropped 0.93 percent against the Japanese yen to 92.7600.