Major Averages Close Slightly Higher Led by the S&P 500


As investors continue to focus on earnings reports, the U.S. stock market finished slightly higher on Wednesday. Most of the key earnings reports have been good, although few of them have been outstanding thus far. Investors also were reacting to news that housing starts in the United States were up 15 percent in September to a four year high.

Stocks meandered for much of the trading session, just above the unchanged line. The Dow and Nasdaq recorded very small gains while the S&P 500 added 0.41 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed around 5 points higher to 13,557. The widely watched blue-chip index traded in a range between 13,469 and 13,561.

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The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) climbed 0.45 percent and closed the session at $146.20. Volume was light again with only around 95.5 million SPY shares trading hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 120.5 million.

The PowerShares QQQ Trust ETF (NASDAQ:QQQ), which tracks the performance of the Nasdaq 100, fell 0.06 percent to $68.08. The heavily traded ETF was dragged down in part by Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) which lost 2.51 percent after releasing its third-quarter results on Tuesday after the closing bell.

Crude oil was slightly lower on Wednesday. NYMEX crude futures, the U.S. benchmark, lost 0.10 percent to $92.00. Brent contracts fell 0.87 percent to $113.01. The United States Oil Fund ETF (NYSE:USO) lost 0.12 percent to $34.10.

Precious metals also managed to record a small gain along with equities. COMEX gold futures climbed 0.23 percent to $1,750.30 while silver futures added 0.70 percent to $33.19. The heavily traded SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYSE:GLD) recorded a gain of 0.07 percent to $169.54.

Treasuries fell for the second day as investors moved money out of the government bond market. The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE:TLT) fell 0.98 percent to $120.79. The yield on the 10-Year Note jumped 9.3 basis points to 1.81 percent.

The U.S. dollar was also lower on the day, giving a boost to the stock market. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, fell 0.51 percent to $21.64. The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last trading at $1.3125, a gain of 0.26 percent.

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