Stocks Ended with Gains on Economic Data

U.S. stocks ended slightly higher on Thursday after several economic reports cast a more favorable light on the global economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 26.34 points, or 0.20%, to 13,103.68. The S&P 500 index climbed 4.22 points, or 0.30%, to end at 1,412.97. The Nasdaq Composite gained 4.42 points, or 0.15%, to 2,986.12.

Apple Inc.(AAPL) reported a 24% jump in earnings for its fourth fiscal quarter on Thursday afternoon, though the results fell short of investors’ expectations. For the quarter ended Sept. 29, Apple reported net income of $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per share, compared with net income of $6.6 billion, or $7.05 per share, for the same period last year. Revenue jumped 27% to $36 billion. 

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN) reported weak quarterly results on Thursday as the world’s largest Internet retailer spent heavily and suffered from an economic slowdown in Europe. The company said its third-quarter net loss was $274 million, or 60 cents a share, versus net income of $63 million, or 14 cents a share, in the third quarter of 2011.

Microsoft Corp (MSFT)launched its new Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablet on Thursday in a bid to revive interest in its flagship product and regain ground lost to Apple Inc and Google Inc in mobile computing.

Pearson (PSON) PLC and Bertelsmann SE & Co. are in talks to merge their book-publishing businesses, a deal that would combine two of the biggest publishers in the world.

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