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Stocks Regain Ground Following Yesterday's Sell-Off - U.S. Commentary

Stocks have moved mostly higher in early trading on Wednesday, regaining some ground after falling sharply in the previous session. The major averages have all moved to the upside, with the Dow bouncing off a two-month closing low.

The major averages have pulled back off their highs for the young session but remain firmly positive. The Dow is up 97.64 points or 0.8 percent at 12,813.57, the Nasdaq is up 25.48 points or 0.9 percent at 3,016.70 and the S&P 500 is up 12.54 points or 0.9 percent at 1,371.13.

The early strength on Wall Street is partly due to a positive reaction to the release of quarterly results from aluminum giant Alcoa (AA), which kicked off the earnings season after the close of trading on Tuesday.

Alcoa reported first quarter adjusted income from continuing operations of $0.10 per share, surprising analysts, who had expected the company to report a loss of $0.04 per share. The company also reaffirmed its outlook for 7 percent growth in global aluminum demand in 2012.

Nonetheless, buying interest has remained somewhat subdued amid lingering concerns about the global economic outlook.

Housing stocks have shown a substantial upward move after turning in some of the market's worst performances in the previous session. The Philadelphia Housing Sector Index is up by 2.1 percent after tumbling by 3.9 percent on Tuesday.

Significant strength has also emerged among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2.1 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. ArcelorMittal (MT), U.S. Steel (X), and AK Steel (AKS) are posting strong gains.

Healthcare provider, networking, and oil service stocks are also seeing early strength, moving to the upside along with most of the major sectors.

On the economic front, the Labor Department recently released a report showing a 1.3 percent increase in import prices in the month of March. The price growth, which followed a 0.1 percent drop in February, exceeded analyst estimates for a 1.0 percent increase.

The report also showed that export prices rose by 0.8 percent in March following a 0.4 percent increase in February. Economists had expected export prices to increase by 0.3 percent.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve is due to release its Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions from each of the twelve Federal Reserve districts. The report is typically released about two weeks before a monetary policy meeting is held.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Wednesday following the sell-off seen on Wall Street overnight. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 1.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are moving back to the upside following the sharp drop seen in the previous session. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has risen by 0.8 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index is up by 1.1 percent and the German DAX Index is up by 1.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are giving back some ground after moving sharply higher in recent sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.7 basis points at 2.035 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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