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.
- NII Holdings (NASDAQ:NIHD): Up 15.51% (85 cents) to $6.33
- Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL): Up 7.56% (27 cents) to $3.84
- Radian Group (NYSE:RDN): Up 5.71% (58 cents) to $10.73
- Saba Software (NASADQ:SABA): Down 10.07% (74 cents) to $6.61
- Radioshack (NYSE:RSH): Down 5.99% (20 cents) to $3.14
- Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL): Down 2.40% (41 cents) to $16.65
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he is long GE and JNJ.