by Marc Bastow | April 8, 2013 4:44 pm
Markets started out in a similar mood as last week, with stocks beginning in the red but finishing in the black.
Investors kept an eye on events in Europe — and in particular Portugal — and prepared for the start of first-quarter earnings season, which kicked off with Alcoa’s (NYSE:AA) results after the bell.
The S&P 500 led the way on a gain of 0.63% to close at 1,563.07. The Nasdaq followed suit, rising 0.57% to close at 3,222.25, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.33% to end at 14,613.48.
Expectations are relatively low for the quarter, as S&P 500 firms are expected to post another year-over-year drop in profits. Alcoa’s numbers didn’t follow that trend, though, as the company’s profits gained a whopping 59%.
Of course, that gain was thanks to a one-time benefit, as revenue slid 2.9% and missed expectations. Still, the EPS of 13 cents per share beat estimates of 9 cents per share.
General Electric (NYSE:GE) announced plans to buy Lufkin Industries (NASDAQ:LUFK), a supplier of artificial lift products and technology for the oil and gas industry, in a $3.3 billion deal. Shares of Lufkin rose nearly 40% on the news while GE gained just under 1%.
BioCryst (BCRX) was another big gainer on the day, climbing 12% amid reports of bird flu infections in China. The company is investigational anti-viral agent to treat influenza.
In other news, the proposed $20 billion acquisition of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo (PINK:GPMCY) by Anheuser-Busche InBev (NYSE:BUD) may be moving closer to completion. The companies, along with Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ), said they’d reached an agreement that would get through the Justice Department’s objections to the deal.
Shares of cosmetics manufacturer and distributor Avon (NYSE:AVP) rose nearly 2% after the company announced it will leave the Irish market and cut 400 jobs worldwide. It expects to save close to $50 million in payroll expenses.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) — which set a new 52-week high last week — lost just over 1% after JPMorgan lowered its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “overweight”. JNJ registered the biggest loss in the Dow for the day.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he is long GE and JNJ.
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