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Apr 10, 2013

Wall Street at Close Report -April 10, 2013- I MarketWatch: U.S. stocks up for third day to record highs.

By Kate Gibson and Wallace Witkowski, MarketWatch 

NEW YORK (MarketWatch)U.S. stocks on Wednesday rose for a third straight day, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 index having their best sessions in six weeks. 

Fed minutes show bond-buy debate
Paul Vigna and Jon Hilsenrath discuss the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee, and Spencer Ante looks at the possibility of a deeper partnership between Apple and Yahoo. 

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March meeting had several Fed officials saying the central bank should taper its bond purchases later in the year and halt it altogether by year-end if the labor market improves. 

However, the meeting came before a government report last week said U.S. payrolls in March expanded at their slowest pace in nine months, a dismal read that could affect future Fed moves.
“We care about liquidity and momentum,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. 

“There are people tiptoeing out of bonds into stocks in search of yield and incremental growth, and that’s why the leading sectors this year are offensive,” said Ablin, pointing to health care as an example. 

All 10 industries in the S&P 500 rose, led by technology and health-care stocks, with the index climbing to an intraday record of 1,589.07 to surpass the previous record of 1,576.09 set in October 2007. The S&P 500 index SPX +1.22% closed at a record 1,587.73, up 19.12 points, or 1.2%.
“The next stop looks like 1,600 on the S&P by Friday,” emailed Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., in afternoon commentary.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +0.88% added 128.78 points, or 0.9%, to 14,802.24, also closing at a record and after setting an intraday record of 14,826.66 during the session. It was its best point gain since Feb. 27 and its best percentage gain since March 5. 

Like the S&P 500, technology and health-care stocks led gains with Intel Corp. INTC -1.26% , Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO +2.38% Pfizer Inc. PFE +2.78% , and Merck & Co. MRK +2.92% the best performers on the 30-company index. 

Up the most since Jan. 2, the Nasdaq Composite COMP +1.83% rose 59.40 points, or 1.8%, to 3,297.25. It was its highest close since November 2000. 

For every share that fell, more than three advanced on the New York Stock Exchange, where 701 million shares traded. 

Composite volume approached 3.5 billion shares. 

“As of yet, we’re unable to find a catalyst to move this market lower,” said Art Hogan, market strategist at Lazard Capital Markets. 

“As we get further into earnings next week, how many will say ‘we’re seeing a pullback because of payroll taxes and gasoline prices?’” Hogan asked, saying corporate outlooks could determine whether the market breaks its current upward trend, which has the S&P 500 index SPX +1.22% up more than 11% this year.

The price of oil climbed for a third consecutive session, with crude futures for May delivery CLK3 +0.39% rising 44 cents to $94.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. 

Treasury yields also headed higher, with the 10-year 10_YEAR +3.14% up for a third day to 1.804%.
On the other hand, gold GCM3 -1.80% was hit, with the precious metal falling more than 1% on the day after Goldman Sachs cut its forecast for the year. 

The Fed minutes showed several Fed members advocated that the central bank start to taper its quantitative-easing program later in the year, with the goal of halting it altogether by year-end.
“Since we had a soft patch in the economic data cycle, I think that has tempered our view of what the minutes mean to us,” said Lazard’s Hogan. 

“If we had a number north of 200,000 jobs on Friday, along with the ongoing debate as to whether the Fed should taper, the market would be reacting negatively today,” he added. 

Getty Images Enlarge Image
Fed chief Ben Bernanke. Fed minutes released Wednesday show division over “QE” duration.
After sending out the market-moving minutes from its last policy-setting meeting to congressional staffers and trade groups a day early, the Fed moved up the release of the minutes by five hours

President Barack Obama on Wednesday submitted his proposed 2014 budget to Congress, with his plan viewed as laying the ground for talks on a broader debt-reduction package. 

U.S. deficit-cutting efforts are “too aggressive in the short term and too timid in the medium term,” an approach that threatens U.S. and global economic growth, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, told a forum organized by The Economic Club of New York. 

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York. Wallace Witkowski is a MarketWatch news editor in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @wmwitkowski.

DealBook P.M. Edition -April 10, 2013-.: White Collar Watch: KPMG and the Pain That Comes of Breached Trust Home |Business Day| Video The New York Times

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
White Collar Watch: KPMG and the Pain That Comes of Breached Trust Peter J. Henning says that the information a senior KPMG auditor revealed to a golfing buddy may seem casual, but the action still violated federal securities laws and the consequences will be severe.
For the latest updates, go to »

Bernard L. Madoff.
Court Scolds S.E.C., but Shields It From Madoff Investors In its ruling that Bernard L. Madoff's investors cannot sue the Securities and Exchange Commission for not uncovering his fraud, a federal appeals court blasted the agency for its failings.
Gleacher in Deal Talks Again The embattled boutique bank Gleacher & Company said on Wednesday that it was in "preliminary discussions" with an unnamed third party about a possible business combination, months after the firm ended merger talks with Stifel Financial.
Bank of America Hires Goldman M.&A. Executive Bank of America Merrill Lynch has hired Luigi Rizzo from Goldman Sachs to become head of mergers and acquisitions for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
K.K.R. Hires New Chief for Japanese Unit A new chief executive for the private equity company's Japanese unit is the latest in a series of senior appointments for K.K.R. in Asia, as it seeks to close a new $6 billion Asian fund and expand regionally beyond the traditional buyout business.
Report Identifies Companies Vulnerable to Activist Takeovers Fifth Third Bancorp, Ameren and ConAgra Foods are among the companies that would be the most vulnerable to takeover by activist investors, a new study by a research firm finds.
Breakingviews: Banking's Crocodile Tears Edward Hadas says that the annual pension payment for James Crosby, the former chief executive of the failed British bank HBOS, will still be over 400,000 pounds, 23 times more than the 17,700 pound average income of retired households in Britain.
Economic Reports Data to be released on Thursday include weekly jobless claims and import prices for March.
Corporate Earnings Companies scheduled to release quarterly results on Thursday include Rite Aid.
In the United States On Thursday, a Senate Banking subcommittee will conduct a hearing about the role of independent consultants in the review of foreclosures.
For the latest updates, go to »

Quotation of the Day
"The S.E.C. missed many opportunities to uncover Madoff's multibillion-dollar fraud."
Federal appeals court ruling that bars Madoff investors from suing the S.E.C., but also blasts the agency.

BIVToday's Busines News -April 10, 2013-.: Higher B.C. income taxes may not mean more revenue: C.D. Howe Institute


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Goldman's gold short call mocked by GGR's Arensberg: GATA I THE GATA DISPATCH -April 10, 2013-.

Goldman's gold short call mocked by GGR's Arensberg

11:28p ET Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
Gene Arensberg of the Got Gold Report today mocks Goldman Sachs' claim to be taking a short position in gold.
Arensberg writes: "Much more likely is that Goldman is already nearly maxed out on their short position for the yellow metal and, following the news from the Bank of Japan of massive new money printing, and following gold fetching up above its important $1,525 technical support, and needing new 'blood' on the short side, the Goldman gang felt the need to call in some public negative reinforcement."
Arensberg's commentary is headlined "Gold Prices Hit by Goldman Forecast Cut, Fed" and it's posted at the Got Gold Report here:

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to air 'The Secret World of Gold: GATA I THE GATA DISPATCJ -April

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to air 'The Secret World of Gold'

11:52a ET Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
Gold and the mysteries about its trading will be the subject of a documentary to be broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Thursday, April 18.
The documentary, "The Secret World of Gold," will be broadcast on CBC's premier investigative program, "Doc Zone," and it seems to have a clue about market manipulation.
The CBC's announcement of the program says in part: "Some claim that much of the gold held by the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve, and Fort Knox is gone -- that for every 100 ounces of gold traded, there exists only 1 ounce of real, physical gold. So where is the gold -- and who really owns it?"
We don't yet know how accessible this documentary will be outside Canada but we hope that it eventually will be accessible worldwide and we'll keep you posted about it.
CBC's announcement of "The Secret World of Gold" is posted at the network's Internet site here:

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

Correction: European Markets at Close Report I MarketWatch -April10, 2013-.: Strong China import demand boosts Europe stocks

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch 
LONDON (MarketWatch) European stock markets rallied to close at the highest level in a week on Wednesday, boosted by data showing Chinese demand for imports surged in March as well as comments on extending bailout programs for Ireland and Portugal. 

The broad-based gains further tracked solid performances in the U.S., where the S&P 500 index SPX +1.22%  climbed to an intraday record. 

The Stoxx Europe 600 index XX:SXXP +1.78% rallied 1.8% to close at 293.19, the best daily performance since early March.

A rush to sell gold in Japan
The weak yen has triggered a gold rush, literally, in Japan as families sell items to take advantage of prices that have soared in yen terms. Michael Casey explains. Photo: Getty Images. 

“There has been some good export news from China, which offsets concerns about the global growth story from last week,” said Oliver Wallin, investment manager at Octopus Investments 

“But it is not the only driver. We’ve seen for quite a while that traders buy on the dips and wait for pullbacks in the market to join in. I suspect that last week offered that invitation and we had seen profit-taking for some time,” he added. 

Europe’s benchmark index posted its worst week since November last week, after weak U.S. 

nonfarm-payrolls data fueled worries over the country’s economic and labor market recovery. 

The downbeat data, however, eased concerns that the Fed in the near future would fade out its monthly asset purchases, as the central bank broadly use the labor market as a guidance of the duration of its easing program. Minutes from the Fed’s March meeting showed Wednesday that the policy-setting committee remains divided on when to end the bank’s asset purchases. 

The Fed said that one member wanted to slow the bond purchases immediately, while a few more favored slowing the purchases at midyear, with the program ending later in 2013. The minutes were released five hours ahead of schedule after the central bank discovered some copies had been inadvertently sent to staffers and trade groups on Tuesday.

U.S. stocks were higher on Wall Street.

China trade data

European investors further looked to China, where the country posted an unexpected trade deficit. Imports surged 14.1% from a year earlier, beating estimates of 6.1% growth and underlining that domestic demand in the world’s second-largest economy is improving. Exports rose 10%, below expectations of a 12% rise. 

STR/AFP/GettyImages Enlarge Image
China imports surged more than expected in March data show on Wednesday.
“This could dispel concerns over weak domestic demand. The near-term economic outlook is further supported by moderating inflation as witnessed by yesterday’s inflation report, which has eased pressure on [People’s Bank of China] to tighten policy,” analysts at Danske Bank said in a note. 

Resource shares climbed after the data, as China is a major user of natural resources. Shares of Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. UK:ENRC +3.81%  gained 3.8% in London, while oil group Total SA FR:FP +0.94% TOT +0.06% rose 0.9% in Paris. 

European banks also benefited from the positive sentiment and were further lifted by comments from the troika of international lenders about extending Portugal and Ireland’s bailout programs by seven years, according to Bloomberg

The recommendation came ahead of a meeting of euro-zone finance ministers in Dublin on Friday, where measures to help the two countries return to the financial markets for financing are expected to be discussed. 

Portugal’s PSI 10 index PT:PSI20 +4.35%  jumped 4.4% to 5,961.57, while Ireland’s ISEQ 20 index XX:IECP +1.84%  closed 1.8% higher at 631.84. 

Shares of Banco Comercial Português SA PT:BCP +12.79%  soared 13% and Banco Espirito Santo SA PT:BES +10.81%  surged 11% in Lisbon. 

Shares of Banco Popolare SC IT:BP +9.68%  climbed 9.7% in Milan, Société Générale SA FR:GLE +6.12%  jumped 6.1% in Paris and Deutsche Bank AG DE:DBK +3.79%   DB +3.23%  gained 4.2% in Frankfurt. 

Among other country-specific indexes in Europe, Germany’s DAX 30 index DX:DAX +2.27% added 2.3% to 7,810.63, while France’s CAC 40 index FR:PX1 +1.99% gained 2% to 3,743.71. 

Shares of utility firm E.ON SE DE:EOAN +2.81%  rose 3.8% in Germany, after Morgan Stanley removed the company from its “bottom picks” and upgraded it to equal-weight from underweight, citing improved risk-reward outlook. 

Deutsche Lufthansa AG DE:LHA +3.60%  picked up 3.6%. The airline said its passenger load factor rose 2.8 percentage points to 79.5% in March, while passenger volume slipped 1.2%. 

The U.K.’s FTSE 100 index UK:UKX +1.17% closed 1.2% higher at 6,387.37. Shares of heavyweight HSBC Holdings PLC UK:HSBA +1.04%   HBC +0.91%   HK:5 +1.24%  rose 1%.
Shares of low-cost airline EasyJet PLC UK:EZJ +6.65% gained 6.7% after Citigroup lifted the firm to buy from neutral, saying free-cash-flow generation bodes well for dividend growth and possible more special dividends. 

Sara Sjolin is a MarketWatch reporter based in London. Follow her on Twitter @sarasjolin.

ADVFN III Evening Euro Markets Bulletin -April 10, 2013-.

ADVFN III Evening Euro Markets Bulletin
Daily world financial news Wednesday, 10 April 2013

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Investors brush aside FOMC minutes, look to Bernanke

    Market Movers
    techMARK 2,380.03 +1.10%
    FTSE 100 6,387.37 +1.17%
    FTSE 250 13,794.28 +1.44%
UK equities finished Wednesday close to their best levels of the day despite the pre-release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee's (FOMC) last rate setting meeting, which at first glance seemed to show US monetary policy makers taking another step closer to quantitative easing.

Traders however are wondering if last Friday’s by some accounts dismal jobs report does not beg the question of whether those minutes are now dated.

For Bill Hubbard, Chief Economist at, the answer should be in the affirmative.

In a written reply to interview questions sent by Sharecast he said: “First, Bernanke has already spoken this week and reassured markets that he will not abruptly tighten policy. Second, last week’s softer-than-expected employment report has led investors to push out their expected timing of a start to tapering. Indeed, our US economists have long held the view that tapering will be a story for 2014.”

Acting as a backdrop, President Barack Obama submitted his proposed 2014 budget to Congress.

In parallel, investors were shrugging off a surprise trade deficit in China in March, as the data showed a strong rebound in imports. Export growth, however, was weak. Nevertheless, there is a lingering suspicion that the last few months’ worth of data was overstated.

In fact, and on the above point, economists at Nomura pointed out to clients that this is probably still the case although they are not sure of the reason why there has been a sudden surge. Amongst the difficult-to-explain data points is the fact that China‟s exports to Hong Kong, which accounted for 27% of the total, soared by 93% y-o-y in March, exceeding the already high growth of 61% in Jan-Feb, they explained.

Lastly, mention must be made that the European Commission itself today criticised the fact that Spain’s adjustment is “running out of steam.” On the other side of this debate, European Central Bank Governing council member Jorg Asmussen today reiterated the urgency of finalising a banking union, something which is anathema to some ‘core’ countries.
FTSE 100: Airlines and miners provide a lift
Budget airline easyJet surged from the ‘get-go’ after Citigroup upgraded the stock to 'buy' and raised its target from 980p to 1,210p, saying that it expects strong profit growth and continued market-share gains this year.

Sector peer IAG also performed well after Credit Suisse kept its 'outperform' recommendation for the shares, saying that the pending acquisition of Vueling would "represent another significant positive step towards driving profitability in Spain".

Mining stocks were on the up on hopes over Chinese domestic demand with Vedanta, EVRAZ, ENRC and Rio Tinto making decent gains. Vedanta was leading the way after reporting an increase in full-year production across oil and gas, copper, aluminium, lead and silver. Today’s In that regard, today’s Chinese import data was reassuringly solid.

Polymetal also rose after completing its acquisition of the Maminskoye gold deposit in the Sverdlovks region of Russia which it hopes will have "substantial exploration upside".

Supermarket group Morrison was lower on reports that it could be cutting up to 700 back-office jobs.

Engineering firm IMI was also among the fallers after going ex-dividend.
FTSE 250: AZ Electronic rebounds…slightly
Shares in chemicals group AZ Electronic Materials surged by 14%, though this only slightly made up for the near-35% slump yesterday after a profit warning. UBS upgraded the stock from 'neutral' to 'buy' this morning, saying that yesterday's sell-off was overdone and that the investment case remains intact.

Engineer WS Atkins was also on the rise after saying that full-year results would come in ahead of expectations thanks to stronger second-half margins in the UK and US.

UK Event Calendar
FTSE 100 - Risers
easyJet (EZJ) 1,090.00p +6.65%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 250.90p +5.78%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,179.00p +5.65%
CRH (CRH) 1,430.00p +4.84%
Barclays (BARC) 298.25p +4.28%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 285.40p +4.20%
Evraz (EVR) 209.70p +4.07%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 269.90p +3.81%
Prudential (PRU) 1,066.00p +3.60%
Standard Life (SL.) 340.90p +3.55%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,323.00p -2.29%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,340.00p -2.20%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,167.00p -1.68%
BG Group (BG.) 1,122.50p -0.71%
Glencore International (GLEN) 357.50p -0.28%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,695.00p -0.26%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,074.50p -0.19%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,697.00p 0.00%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 1,923.00p +0.10%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 864.00p +0.12%

FTSE 250 - Risers
AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI) (AZEM) 273.60p +14.00%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 329.80p +6.56%
Supergroup (SGP) 682.50p +5.57%
Halfords Group (HFD) 333.30p +5.44%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 280.80p +5.01%
3i Group (III) 325.20p +4.63%
International Personal Finance (IPF) 448.80p +4.59%
FirstGroup (FGP) 215.80p +4.40%
Carillion (CLLN) 288.50p +4.30%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 410.40p +4.29%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 280.00p -3.15%
RPS Group (RPS) 266.60p -2.77%
Berendsen (BRSN) 747.50p -2.67%
Morgan Advance Materials (MGAM) 280.00p -2.61%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 439.10p -2.53%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 540.00p -2.35%
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 210.00p -2.33%
Amlin (AML) 415.80p -2.05% Group (MONY) 182.70p -2.04%
PayPoint (PAY) 896.00p -1.81%

FTSE TechMARK - Risers
RM (RM.) 79.00p +3.27%
Xaar (XAR) 420.00p +2.19%
Gresham Computing (GHT) 79.75p +1.59%
BATM Advanced Communications Ltd. (BVC) 19.00p +1.33%
Torotrak (TRK) 30.00p +1.27%
Ark Therapeutics Group (AKT) 0.45p +1.12%
Vislink (VLK) 31.00p +0.40%
Ricardo (RCDO) 422.00p +0.24%
Innovation Group (TIG) 25.00p 0.00%
Triad Group (TRD) 5.50p 0.00%

FTSE TechMARK - Fallers
Filtronic (FTC) 60.62p -3.77%
Phytopharm (PYM) 1.30p -3.70%
Vectura Group (VEC) 79.00p -3.36%
Oxford Biomedica (OXB) 1.62p -2.99%
Emblaze Ltd. (BLZ) 57.50p -1.71%
CML Microsystems (CML) 406.00p -1.69%
Optos (OPTS) 146.25p -1.18%
Kofax (KFX) 301.50p -1.15%
Consort Medical (CSRT) 783.00p -0.76%
Wolfson Microelectronics (WLF) 170.00p -0.58%

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European Markets Climbed On Chinese Economic Data
The European markets finished Wednesday's trading session solidly in positive territory. Investor sentiment was boosted after China unexpectedly reported a trade deficit for March amid a surge in imports and a weaker expansion in exports. Investors also had an unexpected opportunity to react to the minutes from the most recent U.S. FOMC meeting, which were released 5 hours earlier than anticipated. Banks and mining stocks were among the best performers on Wednesday.

China unexpectedly reported a trade deficit for March amid a surge in imports and a weaker expansion in exports, official data showed Wednesday. Separately, Fitch Ratings downgraded the country's local currency sovereign rating on Tuesday, citing surging credit growth in the country.

The General Administration of Customs said that the trade balance turned to a deficit of $884 million in March, belying expectations for a surplus of $15.15 billion. In February, the balance was in a surplus of $15.23 billion.

Some members of the Federal Reserve's rate setting board fear the central bank could be going to too far in support of the U.S. economy, the minutes of the most recent Fed meeting revealed Wednesday morning.

At the culmination of a two-day meeting ending March 20, the Fed decided to continue purchases of mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month and purchases of longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month.

While most Federal Open Market Committee officials think it is too soon for the Fed to consider halting its massive bond buying program, some are concerned that such aggressive action risks inflation that will be difficult to contain once the economy is on more solid footing.

Spain and Slovenia face "excessive imbalances" in their economies than other eleven European countries, the European Commission warned on Wednesday.

In a report published on Wednesday, after an in-depth review of 13 EU countries, the commission said the very high domestic and external debt continue to pose serious risks for Spanish growth and financial stability.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks increased by 2.57 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 1.67 percent.

The DAX of Germany climbed by 2.27 percent and the CAC 40 of France advanced by 1.99 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. rose by 1.17 percent and the SMI of Switzerland gained 1.53 percent.

In Frankfurt, EON gained 3.84 percent. Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to ''Equalweight'' from ''Underweight.'' Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank added 4.41 percent and 4.53 percent, respectively. Credit Suisse downgraded Continental to ''Neutral'' from ''Outperform.'' The stock finished up by 3.04 percent.

Daimler, which affirmed its long-term strategy and goals, rose by 3.81 percent. SolarWorld surged by 9.54 percent and SMA Solar leaped by 8.92 percent.

Gerresheimer advanced by 2.61 percent. The drug delivery devices maker reported a higher first-quarter profit, as revenue growth of 10 percent was boosted by strong organic growth in its Plastic Systems division.

Stada declined by 0.12 percent, following a broker downgrade.

In Paris, Societe Generale increased by 6.12 percent. Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas added 6.16 percent and 5.33 percent. GDF Suez climbed by 3.37 percent, after a ratings upgrade at Morgan Stanley. Credit Suisse downgraded Michelin to ''Neutral'' from ''Outperform.'' The stock finished lower by 0.41 percent.

Air France-KLM surged by 6.73 percent, reportedly on a broker upgrade. France Telecom finished higher by 1.45 percent, after Goldman Sachs placed the stock on its Conviction Sell list.

In London, mining stocks received a boost from economic data out of China. Eurasian Natural Resources climbed by 3.81 percent and Vedanta Resources added 5.65 percent. Additionally, Vedanta also reported higher oil and gas production for the fourth quarter.

EasyJet increased by 6.65 percent. Citigroup upgraded the stock to ''Buy'' from ''Neutral.'' Barclays advanced by 4.28 percent and Royal Bank of Scotland gained 4.20 percent. Lloyds Banking finished higher by 2.50 percent.

US Market Report
Rally On Wall Street Lifts S&P 500 To New Record High

Stocks have moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, lifting the S&P 500 to a new record intraday high. The markets have benefited from a positive reaction to trade data out of China as well as the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

The major averages are currently posting strong gains, near their best levels of the day. The Dow is up 127.34 points or 0.9 percent at 14,800.80, the Nasdaq is up 51.63 points or 1.6 percent at 3,289.49 and the S&P 500 is up 1.688 points or 1.1 percent at 1,585.49.

The rally on Wall Street is partly due to a report from Chinese Customs showing a much bigger than annual rate of growth in Chinese imports, with the data generating optimism about domestic demand in the world's most populous country.

The report showed that Chinese imports jumped 14.1 percent in March, more than double the pace of growth expected by economists.

On the other hand, the report also showed that the pace of export growth slowed to 10 percent in March, coming in below economist estimates.

"China's exports cooled last month, correcting the surprisingly strong growth seen earlier this year," Capital Economics said in a research note. "By contrast, imports beat expectations, and the increase appears to have been driven by stronger domestic demand."

The firm added, "That said, with the lingering concerns about property markets depressing commodity demand and few signs that household spending is picking up, this momentum is unlikely to be sustained."

Traders have also reacted positively to the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting, which were released well ahead of schedule.

The minutes suggested that the central bank will maintain its asset purchase program at the current pace until at least the middle of the year.

Sector News

Networking stocks are turning in some of the market's best performances amid the broad based rally, with the NYSE Arca Networking Index surging up by 3.5 percent. The index is climbing further off the three-month closing low that it set last Friday.

Adtran (ADTN) has helped to lead the networking sector higher, with the networking equipment maker jumping by 13.5 percent after reporting better than expected first quarter results.

Significant strength has also emerged among brokerage stocks, as reflected by the 2.3 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index. With the gain, the index has risen to its best intraday level in almost two years.

Most of the other major sectors have also shown strong moves to the upside on the day, with semiconductor, biotech, and oil service stocks posting standout gains.

On the other hand, gold stocks are bucking the uptrend amid a notably decrease by the price of the precious metal. With gold for June delivery falling $17.50 to $1,569.20 an ounce, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index is down by 3.4 percent.

Healthcare provider stocks are also seeing weakness on the day, with Health Management Associates (HMA) leading the way lower after providing disappointing first quarter guidance.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day up by 0.8 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have come under pressure, pulling back further off last week's highs. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.9 basis points at 1.796 percent.

Broker tips
IAG, easyJet, AZ Electronic Materials
Credit Suisse has reiterated its 'outperform' rating and 295p target for British Airways and Iberia owner IAG after Vueling's board recommended its 9.25 euros-per-share offer.

"Following recent restructuring progress with Iberia staff, the acquisition of Barcelona-based Vueling would represent another significant positive step towards driving profitability in Spain," said analyst Neil Glynn.

The share price of budget airline easyJet received a boost on Wednesday by Citigroup which upgraded its rating for the stock, saying that it expects strong profit growth and continued market-share gains this year.

Citi has lifted its recommendation from 'neutral' to 'buy' and hiked its price target from 1,022p to 1,210p. The broker said that the new target is based on a price-to-earnings multiple of 14, up from 12 previously, to reflect the recent market re-rating.

The initial share-price reaction to AZ Electronic Material's profit warning on Tuesday was overdone, according to UBS which upgraded the firm from 'neutral' to 'buy', saying that the investment case remains intact.

AZ continues to have a "robust pipeline" of new products and remains the leader - despite increase competition - in many of its markets, the broker said. Furthermore, the stock's valuation is now "strongly supportive", with shares trading at 10.6 times 2014 earnings, a discount to the 14.6 sector-average multiple.