U.S. Stocks Gain As Investors Assess Corporate News

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose Tuesday as investors assessed the latest corporate news.

         Coca-Cola rose after the company reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit. General Motors gained after an activist investor said he would seek a seat on the company's board and intended to push for a stock buyback.

         Energy stocks slumped after the International Energy Agency said that the recent rebound in prices would be "limited."


KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,061 as of 1:20 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 85 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,815. The Nasdaq composite rose 46 points, or 1 percent, to 4,772.


PRICIER COLA: Coca-Cola rose $1.22, or 3 percent, to $42.45 after the company reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday as it trimmed costs and fetched higher prices for its drinks in North America. The world's biggest beverage maker has been struggling to boost global sales volume amid economic volatility overseas and a shift away from soda back at home.


BUILDING BLOCKS: Martin Marietta Materials was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 after the company reported earnings that exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts. The company also said its board had authorized a new stock buyback program, allowing it to repurchase as much as 20 million of its own shares. The company's stock jumped $12.32, or 10 percent, to $131.48.


ENERGY: Energy stocks fell as the price of benchmark U.S. crude slipped $2.24 to $50.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The drop came as the International Energy Agency said that the rebound prices in recent days of the oil price "will be comparatively limited in scope."

         Analysts at Citigroup said the recent rebound in oil prices would likely to prove short-lived and predicted that rising inventory costs could push the price of oil as low as $20 a barrel.


THE QUOTE: "Today we got a little bit of a dip (in energy stocks)," said Randy Frederick, managing director at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. "The market started out looking pretty good, but I think this oil drop has dampened sentiment a bit."

         Energy stocks in the S&P 500 index dropped 0.7 percent. All nine other sectors in the index rose.


DRIVER'S SEAT: A General Motors stockholder representing four investment funds has told the company he'll seek a seat on its board at the automaker's annual meeting this summer and will push for an $8 billion stock buyback to take place next year. Harry Wilson, a former hedge fund manager and one-time member of the Obama administration's task force that helped to restructure GM and Chrysler in 2009, disclosed his plans in a meeting with GM CEO Mary Barra on Feb. 3. GM rose $1.05, or 2.4 percent, to $37.23.


GREECE TALKS: Investors in Europe were more optimistic that a deal could be reached between Greece and its creditors. The nation's new prime minister voiced confidence Monday that a compromise can be reached at high-stakes meetings in coming days. Greece's stocks and bonds have taken a drubbing this year after the radical left-led government renewed a pledge to seek bailout debt forgiveness and dubbed the country's rescue package, with its conditions of strict austerity, a "toxic fantasy."


EUROPE'S DAY: France's CAC-40 rose 1.2 percent to 4,706 and Germany's DAX rose 0.9 percent to 10,761. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.1 percent to 6,830.


BONDS AND CURRENCIES: In government bond trading, prices were little changed. The yield on the benchmark Treasury note was unchanged from Monday at 1.98 percent.

         The dollar strengthened to 119.24 yen from Monday's 118.58 yen. The euro declined to $1.1317 from $1.1330.

         – by AP Reporter Steve Rothwell



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