Stocks Rise As Investors Assess Economy, Corporate Earnings

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose late morning trading Tuesday, as investors assessed the latest news on consumer prices and some company earnings.

         McCormick, a spice and seasoning company, was the biggest gainer in early trading after reporting better-than-expected earnings and revenue. Shares of Freeport-McMoRan fell after the mining company said it said it would slash its quarterly dividend.


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KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,106 as of 11:25 am. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,142. The Nasdaq composite rose 20 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,031.


CONSUMER PRICES: A modest rebound in gas costs and broad gains in other categories lifted consumer prices for the first time in four months. The consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in February, the Labor Department said Tuesday, after dropping 0.7 percent the previous month.

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THE QUOTE: After surging last week when Federal Reserve policy makers suggested they were in no rush raise rates this year, the action on the stock market has been muted this week as investors wait for another catalyst, said Kristina Hooper, U.S. investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

         "We're in something of a holding pattern as markets continue to digest all that's going on," said Hooper.

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LOWER PAYOUT: Freeport-McMoRan Inc. will cut its quarterly dividend by 84 percent due to falling commodity prices, the Phoenix-based mining company said Tuesday. The company's stock dropped 16 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $19.61.


SPICY EARNINGS: McCormick & Co., the spices and seasoning company, rose after it reported earnings and revenues that beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts. The company said it was planning for a "strong grilling campaign." The stock rose $3.19, or 4.4 percent, to $76.68.


EUROZONE ON THE UP: Figures for the eurozone suggested that the region's recovery may be gaining momentum. In its monthly survey, financial information company Markit said its purchasing managers' index for the region rose to 54.1 points in March from 53.3 in February. That put the index at its highest level since May 2011.


EUROPE'S DAY: In Europe, France's CAC 40 added 0.2 percent while Germany's DAX gained 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent.


CHINA WORRIES: China's manufacturing fell to the lowest level in nearly a year as new orders shrank. HSBC's preliminary manufacturing index based on a survey of factory purchasing managers dropped to an 11-month low of 49.2 in March, from February's 50.7. The index is based on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction.

         China's economy expanded 7.4 percent last year, its slowest pace in nearly a quarter century, and economists predict growth will slow further this year and the next.


ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 4 cents to $47.42 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 49 cents to $55.41 in London.


BONDS AND CURRENCIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was little changed from Monday at 1.91 percent.

         The dollar was little changed against the euro and the Japanese yen. Against the euro, the U.S. currency traded at $1.0932 and versus the yen is was at 119.65 yen.

         – by AP Reporter Steve Rothwell




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