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Stocks Finish Higher on Solid Earnings

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks closed higher Tuesday amid a solid spate of earrings, even as economic reports suggested a muted beginning to the year. Easing geopolitical tensions in Ukraine helped to boost sentiment.

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  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.53% higher to 16,535.37 while the S&P 500 was up 0.48% to 1,878.33. The Nasdaq was 0.72% higher to 4,103.54.
  • Consumer confidence fell to 82.3 in April, below consensus estimates for a reading of 83. The index, a measure of consumer spending and sentiment, fell from an upwardly revised 83.9 in March, its highest point since January 2008.
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index increased 12.9% in February, the smallest year-over-year price gain since August. Economists were expecting an increase of 13%. 
  • Russia made assurances late on Monday that it would not invade Ukraine. Russian troops reportedly have left the Ukrainian border. An expanding list of Russian and Ukraine individuals have been hit by sanctions from the U.S. and EU.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee kicks off its two-day policy meeting Tuesday, with expectations for a further $10 billion cut to asset purchases. An announcement is expected on Wednesday.
  • Sprint  (S) closed 11.31% higher after reporting a substantial narrowing of its first-quarter loss while sales beat estimates. After the closing bell, eBay (EBAY - Get Report) and Twitter (TWTR - Get Report) will report. eBay is forecast to post first-quarter earnings of 67 cents a share while Twitter is slated to report a loss of 3 cents a share. Merck (MRK) was 3.6% higher after posting profit of 88 cents a share, above expectations for 79 cents a share. Herbalife (HLF) was up 2.21% after quarterly earnings fell to 74 cents a share from $1.14 a share a year earlier. 
  • Allergan (AGN) is reportedly trying to solicit takeover offers from companies such as Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Sanofi  (SNY) after receiving an unsolicited $45.7 billion bid from Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX). Bank of America (BAC) gained 1.94% Tuesday after shedding more than 6% Monday due to a self-reported capital planning error.
  • In international markets, Germany's DAX finished up 1.46% while the FTSE in the U.K. was 1.04% higher. The Hang Seng closed 1.45% higher while the Tokyo Stock Exchange was closed for a national holiday.
  • The U.K. economy grew 0.8% in the first quarter, slightly below expectations. Year on year, gross domestic product lifted 3.1%, the Office for National Statistics said Tuesday.
  • Markets closed mixed Monday, the S&P 500 and Dow higher while the Nasdaq was broadly flat. M&A activity boosted indices, which were rocked by volatility amid further sanctions linked to Ukrainian unrest. Russia's former finance minister said Monday that Western sanctions may halt economic growth or cause a recession. Separately, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi reportedly told German parliamentarians Monday that the ECB was far from engaging in further stimulus.

-- By Andrea Tse and Jane Searle in New York

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