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US stocks recover; Tiffany shines on earnings gain

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FILE – This file photo made April 22, 2010 shows a Wall Street sign in front of the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. stock futures rose on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, as investors await the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting in April. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

FILE – This file photo made April 22, 2010 shows a Wall Street sign in front of the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. stock futures rose on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, as investors await the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting in April. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

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Major U.S. stock indexes mounted a solid comeback Wednesday, recovering their losses from the prior day and finishing on track for a weekly gain.

It was the Dow Jones industrial average’s biggest gain in five weeks.

In the absence of any major new economic data, investors focused on companies reporting quarterly earnings or otherwise garnering headlines.

Tiffany & Co. was a favorite early on, vaulting more than 9 percent on a sharp increase in earnings and revenue. Traders also cheered news of Netflix’s plans to make a deeper foray into Europe, sending the Internet video service’s shares up 5 percent.

Investors got a closer look at discussions held by the Federal Reserve’s policymakers in their most recent meeting last month. Wall Street’s reaction was muted, however, and the market kept on the upward trajectory it set upon early on.

U.S. index futures rose before the opening of regular stock trading. The market opened higher and stayed in positive territory throughout the day.

Major indexes have finished higher three of the last four trading days.

“Since there was no real solid news to continue into a two-day sell-off, we’re getting a little bit of a bounce today,” said Joe Peta, a managing director of Novus.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 15.20 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 1,888.03. The index is up 2.2 percent for the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 158.75 points, or nearly 1 percent, to end at 16,533.06. The Nasdaq composite index added 34.65 points, or 0.9 percent, to finish at 4,131.54.

The Dow and Nasdaq remain down for 2014.

Small-company stocks also rebounded. The Russell 2000 index rose 5.73 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,103.63.

Bond prices fell, driving the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note up to 2.54 percent from 2.51 percent late Tuesday.

All 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 rose, led by consumer discretionary and energy stocks.

The stock market has fluctuated between gains and losses on an almost daily basis as investors try to get a better handle on the trajectory of the economy following a weak start to the year.

That pattern continued even after the S&P 500 hit a high early last week.

In all, the market has changed course from one day to another nearly 60 percent of the time so far this year, something not seen since 2008 during the financial crisis, Peta said.

“It is a schizophrenic market that doesn’t seem to have much of a memory from one day to the next,” he said.

The Fed meeting minutes released Wednesday shed little new light on a key question for many investors: When will the Fed start raising interest rates?

Fed officials discussed how to unwind the support the central bank has given the economy once they decide to begin raising the Fed’s key short-term rate. Because the economy is still recovering, most analysts don’t think the Fed will start raising rates before the second half of 2015.

The market got a more detailed look at corporate America with a new batch of company earnings.

Tiffany said its earnings spiked 50 percent in the first quarter as worldwide sales jumped by double digits and the company raised its prices. The results beat analysts’ expectations and the jeweler raised its earnings forecast for the year. Tiffany’s stock jumped $8.07, or 9.1 percent, to $96.30.

“Retail is very fickle right now, but some sectors are doing well, like luxury,” said Dan Veru, chief investment officer at Palisade Capital Management.

Netflix shares rose $18.93, or 5.1 percent, to $390.60 after the company said it will expand into Germany, France and four other European countries later this year.

Online payments system provider Qiwi vaulted 20.7 percent after the company raised both its profit and revenue outlook for 2014 after a strong first quarter. The stock rose $7.21 to $42.12.

Not all stocks had such a good day.

PetSmart dropped $5.17, or 8.3 percent, to $57.02 after the pet store chain reported disappointing revenue for the first quarter and slashed its earnings outlook for the current quarter and year.

Trading volume was lighter than usual Wednesday, something that’s likely to continue this week as the Memorial Day weekend nears.

Investors will get a fresh batch of data on housing and the economy on Thursday, as well as earnings from Hewlett-Packard, Best Buy and Sears, among others.

Associated Press

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