NEW YORK (AP) - Corporate earnings season got off to a positive start today, helping lift the stock market after two days of declines. The market opened higher and remained modestly higher throughout the day. Stocks climbed further after the Federal Reserve released minutes from its latest policy meeting in June.
- The biggest gainer in the Standard & Poor's 500 index was Alcoa. The aluminum giant's earnings are considered by investors to be the official start of the quarterly corporate earnings season. Those earnings came in well above Wall Street's expectations. Alcoa earned $138 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with analysts' estimates of 12 cents a share, according to FactSet. Alcoa rose 84 cents, or 6 percent, to $15.69.
- The Dow Jones industrial average rose 78.99 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,985.61. The S&P 500 index rose 9.12 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,972.83 and the Nasdaq composite rose 27.57 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,419.03. The market kept up its positive momentum following the latest report from the Federal Reserve.
- The price of oil fell for the ninth straight day today as global supplies continue to flow despite unrest in the world's most important oil-producing region. In the Middle East, the insurgency in Iraq is far from resolved, but hasn't halted oil exports. U.S. benchmark crude fell $1.11 to close at $102.29 in New York. Brent crude fell 59 cents to $108.47 in London.
- A two-year slump in personal computer sales ended in the second quarter, helped by improving demand in developed markets like North America and Europe. PC sales have fallen in recent years, hurt by surging demand for tablets and other mobile devices. But quarterly figures released by the research firms Gartner Inc. and International Data Corp. show the global slump is easing.