Bulls Seize the Day: Earnings Propel Stocks Higher

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

The markets soared more than 1% as traders cheered strong first-quarter results and shrugged-off crude jumping above the $111 mark.

Today's Markets

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 176 points, or 1.4%, to 12,443, the S&P 500 jumped 16.3 points, or 1.2%, to 1,329 and the Nasdaq Composite was higher by 51.3 points, or 1.9%, to 2,796. The FOX 50 gained 10 points to 933.

Every sector was higher in a broad rally, with technology issues like Microsoft and energy issues such as Chevron leading the way higher. Transportation shares like CSX and Union Pacific lagged behind.

With earnings season in full swing, all eyes were on first-quarter corporate results Wednesday.

Technology-behemoth Apple is expected to report its first-quarter earnings after the bell Wednesday.  Intel and Yahoo! both reported stellar results the prior day, sending shares rising considerably.

AT&T is among the companies that reported earnings Wednesday.  The telecommunications company revealed profits of 57 cents a share, matching expectations. Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ: 27.26, -0.14, -0.51%) also hit expectations with earnings of 61 cents a share, excluding one-time costs.

Wells Fargo earned 67 cents a share, beating expectations 1 cent, but cut the amount of money set aside for bad loans to $2.2 billion from $5.3 billion the prior year.

In currencies, the euro climbed 1.2% against the U.S. dollar and the greenback slumped 0.9% against a basket of world currencies.  Commodities, like oil, generally trade inversely to the U.S. dollar.

A bullish report on oil inventories also put upward pressure on oil.  Domestic crude stocks unexpectedly fell 2.3 million barrels to 357 million in the prior week, as compared to a 1.1 million barrel build analysts expected. Gasoline stocks fell as well, dropping 1.6 million barrels, a slightly bigger draw than the 1.5 million markets expected.

Light, sweet crude gained $3.17, or 2.9%, to $111.45 a barrel and is up more than 21% since the beginning of this year. Energy prices at the consumer level remain elevated. A gallon of regular gasoline cost $3.84 a gallon on average nationwide, up from $3.55 last month and $3.86 last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

On the mergers and acquisitions front, power company AES (AES: 12.90, +0.43, +3.45%) unveiled plans to acquire regional power utility DPL (DPL: 30.11, +2.52, +9.13%) for $3.5 billion in cash and acquire $1.2 billion in debt.

The joint Nasdaq/IntercontinentalExchange (ICE: 120.37, +1.04, +0.87%) rival bid to acquire NYSE Euronext (NYX: 39.10, +0.40, +1.03%) has taken yet another turn after the companies made a formal offer Tuesday.

Nasdaq is considering formally demanding NYSE Chief Executive Officer Duncan Niederauer recuse himself from discussions on the acquisition because of conflicts of interest, sources told FOX Business' Charlie Gasparino. However, Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer Robert Greifeld said in a conference call the company is striving to have friendly talks. Greifeld also said if the merger is successful, he believes the joint-entity would be a U.S. "national champion."

Sales of previously-occupied homes jumped 3.7% on a month-over-month basis to an annualized rate of 5.1 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors. The March reading was well above expectations of a 2.5% gain. Recent data have shown some level of improvement in the beleaguered housing market. Indeed, a report released Tuesday showed the construction of new homes climbing at the highest rate in six months.

"We’re clearly on a recovery path," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, in a release.

However, Yun notes some buyers will still find it difficult to secure mortgage financing, making somewhat of a damper on the home-buying market.

Gold settled at yet another record-high Wednesday.  The metal gained $3.80, or 0.25%, to $1,498 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

Global shares rallied amid positive earnings from companies across the world, such as L'Oreal and PSA Peugeot Citroen.

The English FTSE 100 jumped 2.1% to 6,022, the French CAC 40 gained 2.5% to 4,005 and the German DAX was higher by 3% to 7,249.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 rallied 1.8% to 9,607 and the Chinese Hang Seng was up 1.6% to 23,896.