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Markets Hold on to Gains

After five days of losses, investors responded well to a surprise earnings report from Alcoa, the first from blue chip companies for the quarter.    The Dow climbed 96 points to 12,812 while Nasdaq surged 29 points to 3020.

On the upside

Titan Machinery (Nasdaq: TITN) posted 4th quarter profits that jumped 72% and beat analysts’ expectations.   The agriculture and construction equipment dealership chain also posted a 65% increase in revenues.

The construction sector received a lift from a Wells Fargo homebuilders survey suggesting a possible recovery.  Shares of PulteGroup (NYSE: PHM) and D.R. Horton (NYSE: DHI) racked up sizable gains.

Standard Microsystems (Nasdaq: SMSC) reported earnings that surpassed estimates despite missed revenues.    Responding to management guidance for a strong current quarter, the stock opened higher.

On the downside

Investors were disappointed with the latest guidance from Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE: CSC) which cited a disputed contract with the UK’s National Health Service for revenue uncertainty.

OPNET Technologies (Nasdaq: OPNT) indicated a likely miss in 4th quarter revenues.   The company provides server and network performance management solutions.

Shares of Jaguar Mining (NYSE: JAG) gave up much of its gains from yesterday.   No specific reason was offered by the Brazilian-based gold exploration and mining company.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of nearly 5 to 1 on the NYSE and by more than 4 to 1 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks surged 9 points to 794.

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