U.S. stocks surged higher at Thursday's start, recovering a large chunk of the prior day's losses, as investors looked to a Group of Seven meeting to help calm investors' nerves about the nuclear disaster in Japan. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 127 points to 11,741. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 16 points to 1,273. The Nasdaq Composite added 35 points to 2,652. It's appropriate for the major averages to start in the green on St Patrick's Day. With the news out of Japan not as dire as yesterday, the bulls are inching their way back into the markets. On the earnings front, FedEx is jumping 5% on in line earnings and encouraging comments about the future. The transportation average is up 2% this morning. The commodities look good. Freeport McMoran is jumping 2% while Cliffs Natural Resources is up 3%. Petro China is up a percent on earnings. Noble Energy is higher on an upgrade. Devon Energy is higher even though it was downgraded. The financials are modestly higher this morning, but no major follow through. In the tech space Apple and Google look good thanks in part to upgrades. BMC Software, Motorola Mobility, EMC, and HP are also higher on upgrades. Akamai is jumping 5% on an upgrade. Qualcomm is up 3% on news they won't see a significant impact from the Japanese disaster. That's good. IBM is unchanged on a downgrade to neutral. Through the first hour the averages remained near the highs of the day. Through the morning the Dow rose as much as 170 points before pulling back. The financials have given up a lot of their gains. The Nasdaq is holding near its high of the day. In the afternoon the averages gave up half their gains on, you guessed it, concerns out of Japan. A spike in the yen currency also added to equity volatility. In the afternoon the averages slowly recovered, accelerating its' pace in the last hour. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 161 points, or 1.4%, at 11,774, with all but four of 30 components posting gains. The S&P 500 added 16 points, or 1.3%, to 1,273 led by a 3.1% gain in energy stocks. The Nasdaq Composite gained 19 points to 2,636. The Nasdaq is still lower for the year.
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