Closing Bell Report

The markets closed sharply higher even as home prices plunged, consumer confidence dropped and oil prices soared. The Dow leaped 115 points to 12,685 while Nasdaq climbed 18 points to 2345.

On the upside

Tenet Healthcare (NYSE: THC) narrowed fourth quarter losses as patient admissions rose for the first time in nearly four years.

Prana Biotechnology (Nasdaq: PRAN) reported positive results from a Phase IIa clinical trial of its Alzheimer's treatment PBT2.

A sharp drop in home prices during the fourth quarter of 2007 sparked speculation that home buyers will return to the housing market. Shares of Centex (NYSE: CTX), Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE: HOV) and Standard Pacific (NYSE: SPF) rose.

On the downside

Ceradyne (Nasdaq: CRDN) blamed higher expenses for a drop in fourth quarter earnings. The disappointing results prompted the company to slash its 2008 guidance.

Usec (NYSE: USU) disappointed with lower fourth quarter earnings and a 2008 outlook below expectations. The company also warned that estimated costs for building its American Centrifuge Plant were too low.

Concerns about LDK Solar's (NYSE: LDK) inventory accounting and profit margins weighed down shares of the solar power products maker.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of nearly 7 to 3 on the NYSE and by more than 5 to 3 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks climbed 7 points to 717.

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