The S&P 500 inched above its previous closing high from Dec. 31, led by big gains in shares of technology companies, such as NetApp (Fortune 500) and , Citrix Systems (. The )Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 100 points, but is still down for the year. The Nasdaq rose to its highest levels in more than 13 years.
Bank of America (Fortune 500) boosted investor confidence by , reporting better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the fourth quarter. The report followed solid earnings Tuesday from JPMorgan Chase (Fortune 500) and , Wells Fargo (Fortune 500). Shares of Bank of America rose on the news, as did major banks that have yet to report such as , Goldman Sachs (Fortune 500) and , Citigroup (Fortune 500). ,
The financial sector is expected to have the best profit growth in the fourth quarter, according to FactSet Research. Overall, earnings for the companies in the S&P 500 are expected to be up 6.1% versus the fourth quarter of last year.
In economic news, producer prices increased 0.4% in December, the government said. Manufacturing activity in the New York area expanded at a rapid pace in January, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The Fed's latest snapshot of economic conditions across the country showed that growth continued at a modest pace in recent weeks. Most of the central bank's regions expect "more of the same" or an improvement in activity going forward, according to the Beige Book.
Wednesday's reports "added to renewed market optimism," following solid December retail sales and business inventories data on Tuesday, said Michael Englund, an economist at Action Economics. Despite an unexpected slowdown in hiring last month, "the bulk of U.S. economic surprises remain upward," he added.
General Motors (Fortune 500) shares fell even though the automaker announced on Tuesday that it will pay , its first dividend since 2008. The stock was down because the company said Wednesday morning that it expects 2014 profit margins to be similar to last year and that restructuring costs for fixing problems in Europe are expected to be about $1.1 billion.
The automaker also predicted most growth globally for the industry this year. But GM still has fans on StockTwits.
Shares of electric automaker Tesla Motors ( were up again after )CEO Elon Musk told CNN late Tuesday that the company is on track to produce a cheaper, mass-market car in three years and still plans to offer a full-size pickup similar to the Ford (Fortune 500) F-150 in four to five years. ,
The stock traded as high as $172 a share, but some traders are betting on more upside.
Netflix ( shares fell one day after a federal appeals court )struck down Federal Communications Commission rules that prohibit Internet service providers from restricting access to legal Web content. The stock was the biggest loser in the Tech 30 index.
Shares of 3D printer maker ExOne ( fell sharply after it warned late Tuesday that revenue would be far below its earlier forecasts. The warning follows disappointing guidance from 3D printer maker )Stratasys ( earlier in the day. Fellow 3D printer companies )3D Systems ( and )Voxeljet ( were down in early trading as well. )
A few traders on StockTwits said the selling in 3D printing stocks was overdone and were stepping in to buy.
The main European stock market indexes all finished the day higher. Burberry ( shares surged in London after the )luxury retailer reported a 14% jump in retail revenue in the third quarter, which includes the holiday season. Asian markets mostly closed the day with gains.
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