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Stocks End Higher on European Debt Funding, Goldman Earnings

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks rose Wednesday, with the S&P 500 settling above 1,300 for the first time since late July, as investors looked to a confluence of positive news, from Goldman Sachs earnings to the possibility of more debt funding for Europe.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 97 points, or 0.5%, at 12,545. The S&P 500 was up 14 points, or 1.1%, at 1,308. The Nasdaq rose 42 points, or 1.5%, to 2,770.

"The fear of being left behind is driving this market and it's the reason the action doesn't feel upbeat," James "Rev Shark" Deporre, Real Money contributor and CEO of Shark Asset Management, wrote. "Europe is still a mess, economic reports are mixed, earnings are problematic and we still have issues with unemployment and real estate. It is easy to make a bearish case and that creates pessimism, but when the market refuses to go down in the face of all those issues, it creates fear of being left behind."

European shares closed higher after reports that the International Monetary Fund sees a $1 trillion global financing gap in the next two years and is seeking to more than double its lending capacity to $985 billion from its currently available $385 billion. The Washington-based lender, led by Christine Lagarde, is pushing Brazil, Russia, India and China -- together known as the BRIC nations -- as well as Japan and oil-exporting nations to be the top contributors, Bloomberg reported, citing an anonymous source.

American investors seemed to cheer later reports that the U.S. has no intention of contributing more money to the IMF's funds. "We continue to believe that the IMF can play an important role in Europe, but only as a supplement to Europe's own efforts. Europe has the capacity to solve its problems. The IMF cannot substitute for a robust euro area firewall," the U.S. Treasury said in an email statement, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, investors are waiting to learn the fate of Greece. After a stalemate last week, officials are reconvening with private investors to work out a possible solution to reducing the nation's debt that involves investors swapping out their Greek bonds for ones of lower value.

Germany's DAX closed up 0.4% while London's FTSE was 0.2% higher. Japan's Nikkei Average settled 1% higher and Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.3%.

The National Association of Home Builders exceeded expectations Wednesday morning as it reported that optimism surrounding housing conditions continues to improve. The NAHB's housing market index climbed to a reading of 25 this month, its highest level since June 2007. Economists had expected the reading to remain unchanged at 21.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said producer prices dropped 0.1% in December, falling short of estimates. Economists had expected producer prices to rise 0.1% last month, according to

"Heading into today's report, we knew that food and energy prices would weigh on the headline producer price index for December and indeed that ended up being the case," Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG, wrote. "To the extent one may be monitoring inflation developments with regards to what the Fed may or may not do, slower rates of price increases play right into the Fed's hand, providing more room for the more dovish members of the FOMC to support additional easing measures."

The Federal Reserve also disappointed economists after reporting that industrial output rose 0.4% in December after falling a revised 0.3% the prior month. Economists had expected output to rise 0.5%.

However, lifting the broader market was Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report), which joined Wells Fargo (WFC) in reporting better-than-expected results Wednesday morning. Bank of America (BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) led the Dow higher. Four Dow components of 30 fell, dragged by Procter & Gamble (PNG) and Boeing (BA).

Although Goldman Sachs's profit fell 58%, the investment bank beat the average analyst estimate by cutting costs. The company earned $1.81 a share in the fourth quarter, compared with $3.79 a share a year earlier. Analysts expected to see earnings of $1.46 a share, according to Goldman Sachs shares climbed 6.8% to $6.63.

Bank of New York Mellon (BK - Get Report), however, joined Citibank (C) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) in disappointing Wall Street. The lender's fourth-quarter earnings fell to 42 cents a share as net income dropped 26%. Analysts had expected to see earnings of 53 cents a share. Bank of New York shares dropped 4.6% to $20.30.

In other corporate news, Yahoo! (YHOO - Get Report) co-founder Jerry Yang resigned from the Internet company's board, as well as the boards of Yahoo! Japan and Alibaba Group, citing the need to "pursue other interests outside Yahoo!" for the decision. The news could be a sign that Yahoo! is getting ready to make a deal, either to dispose of certain assets or sell the company outright. The company's shares gained 3.2% to $15.92.

Samsung dismissed rumors that emerged Tuesday suggesting that the South Korean maker of Google's (GOOG) Android phones and Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows phones was interested in purchasing the struggling BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM). James Chung, a spokesman for Samsung, was quoted by Reuters as saying: "We haven't considered acquiring the firm and are not interested in (buying RIM)." Research in Motion decreased 1.1% to $17.28.

Active Power (ACPW - Get Report), the maker of backup mechanical batteries, announced that it renewed a global distribution agreement with Caterpillar (CAT - Get Report) that for the next five years. Active Power shares jumped 7.9% to 96 cents.

February oil futures fell 17 cents to $100.88 a barrel, while February gold futures rose $4.30 to $1659.90 a barrel.

The dollar index was dropping 0.7%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was falling 11/32, increasing the yield to 1.897%.

-- Written by Chao Deng and Kaitlyn Kiernan in New York.

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Chart of I:DJI
DOW 16,204.97 -211.61 -1.29%
S&P 500 1,880.05 -35.40 -1.85%
NASDAQ 4,363.1440 -146.4150 -3.25%

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