Stocks opened higher on Wednesday as investors drew some cheer from word of government aid for life insurers and an acquisition in the home building sector, helping offset Alcoa's quarterly loss. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 33 points to 7,822. Alcoa is modestly higher even though the company lost nearly half a billion dollars. The S&P 500 Index gained 6 points to 821 while the Nasdaq Composite rose 20 points to 1,582. The insurance stocks are springing to life with Hartford and Lincoln National both up 30% or more. The financials are also in the green even though Oppenheimer cut estimates on the big banks. The retail sector looks great. Family Dollar is up 6% on earnings, Jos. A. Bank is up 13% on earnings, Bed Bath & Beyond is jumping 20% on earnings and an upgrade, and Ruby Tuesday is up a mere 50% after beating estimates. American Eagle is up 4% even though it was downgraded. The techs are higher, but not by much. Intel and Cisco are modestly higher on upgrades. Juniper is jumping 10% on an upgrade. One merger to speak of in the homebuilding sector. Pulte Homes has agreed to buy Centex for $1.3 billion. Centex is jumping 27%. After the first hour, the rally started to fizzled as many of the financials fell into the red. Fertilizer firm, Mosaic opened lower on earnings, but is now in the green. Constellation Brands is down 5% after missing estimates. Ryder is dragging down the transportation sector after a big miss on earnings. Ryder is down 15%, the dog of the day. After the first hour, the Dow had given up all its gains. The Nasdaq is modestly in the green. Through the morning the averages kept their heads above the unchanged level. The financials are modestly to the downside. In the afternoon, more of the same. Very quiet day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 47 points at 7,837. The S&P 500 Index climbed 9 points, or 1.2%, to 825 while the Nasdaq Composite gained 29 points, or 1.9%, to close at 1,590.
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