Stocks Snap 3-Day Losing Streak; Apple Flat
Stocks ended higher Wednesday, recovering a portion of the previous session's steep decline, buoyed by some better-than-expected economic reports and amid optimism over Greece's bond swap offer.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 78.18 points, or 0.61 percent, to close at 12,837.33, led by BofA and Caterpillar , after plunging more than 200 points in the previous session in its biggest one-day decline this year.
The S&P 500 added 9.27 points, or 0.69 percent, to finish at 1,352.63. The Nasdaq rose 25.37 points, or 0.87 percent, to end at 2,935.69.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, tumbled near 19.
Most key S&P sectors ended higher, led by banks and industrials.
“Right now, the Greek bailout is the number one item,” said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services. “We’re back to where we were several weeks ago where the euro controls everything—and the euro is somewhat more stable today.”
European shares ended higher as investors awaited a deal on Greece's debt swap on Thursday. (Read More: What Happens If Greek Debt Swap Deal Fails?) Thirty banks and funds agreed to take part, reassuring investors that the deal will go through and that the 130 billion euro international bailout package would be secured.
Apple unveiled its next generation iPad with a "retina" high-resolution display, the company's first tablet to operate on the high-speed 4G network. The new iPad will be available on March 16 and will cost $499 for a 16 GB version. Pre-orders start today.
Apple closed flat after briefly dipping into negative territory following the announcement.
Meanwhile, Apple's suppliers including Broadcom , Qualcomm and NXP Semiconductors rallied. (While the following are confirmed Apple suppliers, they may not necessarily be in the actual new iPad.) Carriers AT&T and Verizon also rose.
General Electric edged higher after the conglomerate confirmed its outlook for 2012 and its expectations for continued double-digit percentage revenue growth in emerging market regions. GE is the minority shareholder of NBCUniversal.
Meanwhile, fellow Dow component Kraft slumped after Jefferies downgraded the packaged food maker to "hold" from "buy," citing a slowdown in earnings growth this year.
Research In Motion slipped after BMO cut its price target on the BlackBerry maker to $12 from $15.
Wynn gained after the resort operator announced it would hold a special shareholders meeting to oust Kazuo Okada from its board, less than two weeks after the Japanese billionaire was removed as director of the company's Macau unit.
On the earnings front, Pandora plunged after the online radio company handed in a weak outlook. In addition, at least two brokerages lowered their ratings, while another two cut their price targets on the company.
American Eagle Outfitters gained even after the retailer
H&R Block is slated to post earnings after-the-bell tonight.
On the economic front, private employers in the U.S. created 216,000 jobs in February, according to the ADP National Employment Report.
The report come ahead of Friday's monthly government jobs report. Economists polled by Reuters expect a gain of 210,000 in overall nonfarm payrolls and an addition of 225,000 jobs in the private sector.
Meanwhile, unit labor costs rose at an annual rate of 2.8 percentin the fourth-quarter, according to the Labor Department.
“We still think GDP growth is going to be moderate [this year] because there are still significant headwinds,” said Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs, pointing to a gradual normalization process in the labor market, worries over high oil prices and ongoing fiscal restraints.
Also on the economic front, the Federal Reserve reported consumer credit grew by $17.8 billion in January, largely driven by student loans. The amount was above the estimated increase of $10.0 billion from economists surveyed by Reuters.
Weekly mortgage applications dipped last weekas refinance demand slumped, even though home purchases gained, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC—
On Tap This Week:
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, quarterly services survey; Earnings from Smithfield Foods, Aeropostale
FRIDAY: Non-farm payrolls, international trade, wholesale trade; Earnings from Ann
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