Stocks Rise with Builder Sentiment

U.S. stocks closed higher on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 Index closing above the key 1,300, on improved sentiment in housing and as Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s earnings beat expectations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 96.88 points, or 0.78%, to close at 12,578.95. The S&P 500 added 14.37 points, or 1.11%, to end at 1,308.04, its first close above 1,300 since July 28. The Nasdaq Composite tacked on 41.63 points, or 1.53%, to close at 2,769.71.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan on Wednesday said about one million borrowers are expected to benefit from principal reductions on their mortgages as part of a wide-ranging settlement with banks over dubious foreclosure practices.

F5 Networks Inc.’s fiscal first-quarter earnings rose 19% as the Internet traffic service provider reported year-over-year sales gains. F5 said it expects second-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.05 to $1.07 a share on revenue of $332 million to $337 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect $1.05 and $331 million, respectively.

EBay reported quarterly results that topped analysts’ expectations but its outlook was mixed. In the fourth quarter, the company posted earnings excluding items of 60 cents per share, up from 52 cents a share in the year-earlier period. Revenue was $3.4 billion, an increase from $2.50 billion a year ago.

Shares of Yahoo Inc. rose Wednesday as several Wall Street analysts speculated that co-founder Jerry Yang’s exit signals the eventual sale of parts of or the entire company. Reuters Jerry Yang is leaving the board of directors of Yahoo, a company he cofounded.

Crude-oil futures ended lower Wednesday after the White House rejected a Canadian company’s proposal to build a pipeline from the U.S.-Canada border to the Gulf of Mexico.

Gold futures ended at a five-week best Wednesday. Gold futures for February delivery rose $4.30, or 0.3%, to $1,659.90 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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