The major equity indexes continued higher for a second straight session, as traders cheered reports that Greece may actually avoid a disorderly default. Although official results will not be revealed until early Friday, a government official told The Wall Street Journal that more than 75% of private bondholders had joined in the voluntary debt restructuring as of Wednesday evening. With Greece's minimum participation threshold already attained -- and the cash-strapped country set to lighten its debt load by about 105 billion euros -- bulls took the reins bright and early this morning. On the home front, the Labor Department unveiled a mildly disappointing jobless report, which showed that last week's initial claims increased by a steeper-than-expected 8,000. This news was taken in stride, though, in the wake of yesterday's well-received private-sector payrolls data from ADP. Against this backdrop, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) were able to completely erase Tuesday's sell-off, even as a downbeat sales report from McDonald's (MCD) kept the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) in check.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,907.94) added 70.6 points, or 0.6%, as all but three of its 30 blue chips settled with a win. Alcoa (AA) led the advancing majority with a 2.3% gain. Meanwhile, McDonald's paced the three laggards, lopping off 3.2% after its poorly received same-store sales results.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,365.91) tacked on 13.3 points, or 1%, settling another session atop the 1,350 level. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,970.42) fared the best of its peers, jumping 34.7 points, or 1.2%.
Turning to equities in focus, shares of Navistar International (NAV) fell after the company reported a wider-than-anticipated quarterly loss and weak first-quarter guidance ...
Imperial Sugar (IPSU) announced plans to sell half of its stake in Wholesome Sweeteners ...
Williams-Sonoma (WSM) revealed fourth-quarter earnings that surpassed analysts' expectations, but offered a lackluster forecast for the current quarter ...
Apple (AAPL) scored several price-target hikes after unveiling the latest version of its popular iPad yesterday ...
Priceline.com (PCLN) emerged as a potential bullish play in the online travel sector ...
and today's Quote of the Day comes from Ina Fried of AllThingsD. While discussing the lack of a unique moniker for Apple's "new iPad," she was quoted by CNN as saying:
"I don't think it will be a big deal. If you recall, people didn't like the name iPad when it first came out. They seem to have sold a few of them."
But these weren't the only headlines hitting the Street today. Click on the links below for our blog coverage of:
And, in case you missed it, Adam Warner discussed the rise of CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) derivatives in his latest "Outside the Box" column. Click here to read what he has to say about how these vehicles are impacting the VIX futures market.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
9 Levels to Watch for Apple Inc.
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