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Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.76%, S&P +0.07%, Nasdaq -0.06%, Oil -2.12%, Gold +0.76%.
On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell slightly to $98.41 a barrel. Precious metals were up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) rising to $1,667.00 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 5.15% to settle at $32.08.
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Today’s markets were up because:
1) Housing. Sales of previously-owned homes rose for the third consecutive month in December, reaching an 11-month high as the supply of properties on the market dropped to a near 7-year low, the National Association of Realtors reported today, signaling a recovery in one of the worst areas of the U.S. economy since the recession began in 2008.
2) GE. General Electric, a conglomerate with its hands in everything from jet engines and wind turbines to home appliances and home mortgages, is a sort of economic bellwether. And as such, its earnings reports can signal trends in everything from industry to finance. On Friday, GE reported higher fourth-quarter profits, but revenue slumped 8 percent, due in large part to weakness in European sales. Earnings in energy infrastructure were relatively unchanged, while revenue in GE’s industrial businesses rose 10 percent. The company’s revenue was held back by a 9 percent decline at its GE Capital unit, largely because the credit crunch forced GE to begin to scale back the division.
3) Tech. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and IBM (NYSE:IBM) posted solid fourth-quarter earnings after the bell on Thursday, but Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) badly missed Wall Street’s expectations, plunging more than 8 percent and weighing down the Nasdaq. Intel was up nearly 3 percent, IBM climbed about 4.5 percent, and Microsoft was up more than 5 percent.
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