The markets opened higher on positive earnings news from Wal-Mart Stores. The Dow surged more than 100 points to 12,450 while Nasdaq added 16 points to 2338.
On the upside
4th quarter revenues grew by 8% while profits rose 4% at Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT) while international sales represented a quarter of all business. CEO Lee Scott credited the success to a timely shift from fashion and trendier merchandise to discount groceries and health items for a tough economic environment.
Shares of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) edged higher after Bill Gates mentioned that it was not a private talks to raise its $41 billion offer for Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) whose shares slipped in early trading.
Aluminum products maker Kaiser Aluminum (Nasdaq: KALU) posted sharply higher 4th quarter profits that beat estimates due to strong demand for its aerospace and defense products.
On the downside
Shares of Onyx Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ONXX) tumbled after it reported disappointing results for its lung cancer drug treatment and suspended late stage trials.
Five people were injured at a refinery owned by Alon USA (NYSE: ALJ) after an explosion on Monday where a skeleton crew of just 40 people were working due to the Presidents' Day holiday.
Shares of Penwest Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: PPCO) on worries of another generic rival for its Opana pain reliever drug.
In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of more than 2 to 1 on the NYSE and by more than 5 to 3 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks rose 5 points to 707.