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The Markets Now: Housing Starts and Jobless Claims Lift Stocks Higher

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Earnings season continues with Bank of America and Northern Trust Corp. reporting today.

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Positive economic reports pointing to a better job market and a housing recovery nudged stocks higher. Home starts rose 12% in December and initial jobless claims plunged to 335,000, dropping by 37,000 claims, which is the lowest the indicator has been in five years. Investors are also awaiting details on the Fed balance sheet, which will be announced after the close.

The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) edged higher to 13,565.43, up 0.14%. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) opened at 1476.44 and moved up 0.06% to 1477.71. The Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) opened at 3131.14 and then fell to 3129.88, down 0.06%.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) released an earnings report showing a 63% decrease in fourth-quarter profits. The stock opened at $11.62 and fell to $11.39, down 2%.

Northern Trust Corp. (NASDAQ:NTRS) reported fourth-quarter earnings of $.71 per share, which disappointed analysts, who expected $.75 per share. Shares opened at $49.79 and advanced to $49.99, up 0.4%.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) showed off its new executive briefing center after talks of a possible acquisition in recent days. The stock barely moved from $17.17 to $17.07.

Carl Icahn announced that he was going long on Herbalife (NYSE:HLF). The stock opened at $43.34 and advanced to $44.52, up 2.67%.

AT&T (NYSE:T) is looking at acquiring a carrier in Europe, the Wall Street Journal reported. Shares moved up 0.51% from $32.98 to $33.15.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) announced that it would cut 1,000 jobs. The stock went down 1.52% from $4.60 to $4.53.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) opened at $508.16 and tumbled to $503.92, down 0.83%.

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) moved down 0.36%, from $30.26 to $30.15.

eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) announced that it was improving its mobile app to bring in more young customers Shares opened at $54.70 and later declined to $54.68.

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) opened at $12.83 and fell to $12.76, down 0.54%.

Crocs Inc. (NASDAQ:CROX) opened at $14.27 and inched up 1.04% to $14.42 after the perforated shoe company announced that it had a difficult holiday season.

Gold's price began at $1670.10 and moved up to $1685, up 2.5%. Crude oil's last price opened at $95.31 and went down to $95.21.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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