Stocks Gain on Alcoa Relief

U.S. stocks rebounded at the open on Wednesday, with investors finding cheer in an unexpected first-quarter profit from aluminium producer Alcoa Inc. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately added 91.54 points to 12,807.47. The S&P 500 gained 11.99 points to 1,370.58. The Nasdaq Composite added 25.92 points to 3,017.14.

Applications for home mortgages faded last week after as demand for refinancing declined, an industry group said on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 2.4 percent in the week ended April 6.

A tsunami watch around the Indian Ocean has been lifted hours after two powerful earthquakes hit off Indonesia’s western coast. The 8.6- and 8.2-magnitude earthquakes triggered panic Wednesday afternoon. Residents in coastal cities fled to high ground in cars and on the backs of motorcycles.

Gold edged lower on Wednesday, pausing after four consecutive sessions of gains driven by safe-haven flows on a cloudy global economic outlook. Spot gold inched down 0.2 percent to $1,656.96 an ounce by 0640 GMT, after hitting a one-week high of $1,662.60 on Tuesday. U.S. gold lost 0.1 percent to $1,658.50.

U.S. coal exports reached their highest level in two decades last year as strong demand from Asia and Europe offered an outlet for a fuel that is falling from favor at home. U.S. Department of Energy data analyzed by The Associated Press reveal that coal exports topped 107 million tons of fuel worth almost $16 billion in 2011. That’s the highest level since 1991, and more than double the export volume from 2006.

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