S&P 500 Books Record High as Beige Book Sees U.S. Growing at Moderate Pace

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A spate of encouraging economic reports and an upbeat earnings announcement from financial heavyweight Bank of America helped push the S&P 500 to a record closing high Wednesday.

  • The S&P 500 added 0.52% to close at 1,848.38 after charging to a record intraday high of 1,850.84, pushing the index into positive territory for the year.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average was higher by 0.66% to 16,481.94, and the Nasdaq finished up 0.76% to 4,214.88.
  • The Beige Book report for late November through the end of the year said that for the most part, the economy expanded at a moderate pace; there was an increase in retail activity and real estate markets continued to improve. Wage and price pressures were contained.
  • International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that central banks around the globe should remain supportive to avoid deflation.
  • "Deflation is a psychological thing that is very hard to break," Lance Roberts, CEO of STA Wealth Management, said in a phone interview. "We have a very stable recovery here and we need to do everything to foster that."
  • Bank of America gained 2.3% to $17.16 after demonstrating progress on expenses and improvement in several key businesses in its fourth-quarter earnings report.
  • The World Bank said faster economic growth would be driven by high-income economies this year. It forecast global growth to rise to 3.2% in 2014 from 2.4% last year and 3.4% in 2015.
  • The Empire State Manufacturing Index for January jumped to a better-than-expected 12.5.
  • The Producer Price Index for December rose by an as-expected 0.4%. The core PPI was up a more-than-expected 0.3%. Overall, there was nothing alarming in the inflation report.
  • Chicago Fed Bank President Charles Evans said Wednesday that the job market has strengthened enough to warrant tapering, but that the economy still requires the support of accommodative monetary policy. Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart will speak on the economy and monetary policy in Atlanta at 5:20 p.m.
  • The Hang Seng finished 0.49% higher. Japan's Nikkei jumped 2.5%. Germany's DAX gained 2.03% and the FTSE rose 0.78%.
  • Dick's Sporting Goods  gained 2.1% to $56.38 after being upgraded to "outperform" from "neutral" at Credit Suisse.
  • Intel increased 0.6% to $26.67 after being hiked to "outperform" from "market perform" at BMO.
  • Raymond James  popped 2.1% to $54.38 after being initiated at Credit Suisse with an "outperform" rating.

-- Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York.

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