NEW YORK – Stocks ended a quiet session with a moderate gain Wednesday on strong earnings news and a decline in the trade deficit.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 40.34, or 0.36 percent, to 11,129.97.
Wall Street rebounded from Tuesday's losses after Circuit City Stores Inc. (CC) reported its earnings jumped 65 percent. The electronic retailer's news, coming off an upbeat earnings report from Alcoa Inc. (AA) early in the week, reassured investors nervous about rising commodity prices and their impact on corporate profits.
In economic news, America's trade deficit improved in February, as the imbalance with China dropped to the lowest level in nearly a year. But the overall deficit was still the third highest on record. The deficit for the first two months of this year is running 13.5 percent above the pace in early 2005, a year when the U.S. deficit hit an all-time high of $723.6 billion.
The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the deficit fell to $65.7 billion, a 4.2 percent decline from January's record imbalance of $68.7 billion.
"We have a minor stabilization of the market after a couple of slightly softer days," said Stuart Schweitzer, global markets strategist at JPMorgan Asset & Wealth Management. "No big surprise."
Broader stock indicators were also higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.55, or 0.12 percent, to 1,288.12, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 4.33, or 0.19 percent, to 2,314.68.