(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) U.S. markets advanced Wednesday as investors pushed stocks higher after lawmakers voted to extend the debt ceiling temporarily, and as upbeat earnings lifted spirits.
By the close the Dow Jones had added another 67 points to 13,779, while the NASDAG gained ten pointes to 3154.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted this afternoon on a measure putting extending the government's 16.4 trillion debt limit until May 16, at which point, the ceiling would increase to the amount the Treasury borrows.
The U.S. government has a March 1 deadline before automatic spending custs begin, and until the end of March to approve legislation. Without action, the U.S. risks its first-ever default on its government debts.
Approaching market close, the Dow was lately up 74 points to 13,786, the Nasdaq gained 12 points to 3,155, and the S&P 500 rose 2 points to 1,495 - nearing the key 1,500 level.
On the corporate earnings front today, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will be in the spotlight after the bell, with the consumer tech company slated to report its first quarter results.
Apple's stock has fallen sharply since September mostly on fears over slowed growth in its iPhone business " which was spurred further earlier this month when reports surfaced that that the tech giant had slashed its orders for iPhone 5 components due to weaker-than-expected demand.
"Just as they were with Google yesterday, expectations going into the Apple earnings are very muted as evidenced by the poor stock performance for the last several weeks," president of Padlock Investment Management, Don Lato, told Proactive Investors.
"The range of estimates is very wide, from 11.50 to 15.50, and with all of the moving parts this quarter like the iPhone 5, iPad mini, reduced margin guidance and Android gains, the actual earnings could be anywhere in the range."
Lato says that by his guess, iPhone sales and iPad mini sales will drive revenues higher than anticipated. "And I think the sentiment is so poor that they will report earnings that are better than consensus," he added.
Apple's stock gained almost 2% before market close.
Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares also advanced nearly 6%, as it is projected to report a loss of 13 cents a share in the fourth quarter, also after the closing bell, while SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK) and Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) are also slated to report.
During today's session, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD) rallied, leading gains in the tech sector, after last night reporting results.
Shares of IBM rose 4.8% after the company reported earnings that topped analyst views, and issued upbeat profit guidance.
Google shares rose over 5% after the Internet search firm posted a higher profit on strong ad sales in the fourth quarter. Solid gains were seen in the core business, with advertising revenue jumping more than 20% to 12.91 billion in the quarter. It reported a 24% rise in paid clicks.
Semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices saw its shares rise over 11% after the company topped views late Tuesday. It reported a wider fourth quarter loss as revenues fell 32%, but excluding one-time items, it would have lost 14 cents a share. Analysts expected AMD to lose 21 cents per share.
McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) advanced a more modest 0.5% after it said its fourth quarter profit rose 1%, with earnings per share of 1.38 topping analyst expectations. Sales at the world's biggest burger chain rose 2% to 6.95 billion, compared to estimates for sales of 6.9 billion. The company said it expects negative comparable store sales growth in January, and expects both top and bottom line growth to remain pressured in the near term.
A flood of companies reported earnings today, including high end retailer Coach (NYSE:COH), which retreated more than 15% after it came up short of estimates, reporting a net profit of 1.23 a share for the second quarter ended Dec. 29. While rising from the prior year's 1.18 a share, the New York-based company had been expected to earn 1.28 a share.
On the economic front, home price indications continue to move higher. The latest Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index is up 0.6% in data for November. This is the strongest rise since June. Gains in the month were led by the Mountain region, surging 2.1%, with the East North Central lagging, down 1.0%.
Meanwhile, the IMF cut its growth forecast for the year today, citing a delayed recovery in Europe, now expecting growth of 3.4% in 2013, down slightly from the prior view of 3.5%. The global economy rose 3.2% in 2012.
The IMF slashed the growth forecasts for almost all countries in 2013 from the prior estimates released in October, with the change being rather drastic for Europe. The IMF now expects the euro-area economy to contract by 0.2% this year, compared with its previous view of a slight 0.2% increase. The U.S. global growth forecast was reduced to 2.0% from 2.1%.
February gold fell 6.50, or 0.4%, to settle at 1,686.70 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange on a strengthened U.S. dollar, erasing more than 6.20 gain it saw on Tuesday.
Prices of gold were already lower when the U.S. House approved a temporary extension of the U.S. debt ceiling until May 19, with results of the vote coming out just as the Comex trading session was drawing to a close.
March oil, meanwhile, ended at 95.23 a barrel, down 1.45, or 1.5%, ahead of the the Energy Information Administration (EIA) providing weekly information on petroleum inventories in the U.S. tomorrow.
European markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The FTSE 100 gained 0.30% and the DAX rose 0.15%. The CAC 40 lost 0.40%.