Markets Snap Back on Renewed Confidence in Homegrown Growth

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Beginning the week mostly lower, U.S. stock indices are recouping to flirt with record highs ahead of the European Central Bank's Thursday meeting and Friday's monthly jobs report. The S&P 500 even hit a record intraday high earlier in the day, despite spending much of the morning in the red.

Fortifying conservative confidence in the final hour to close, the Fed released its Beige Book which recorded "modest" to "moderate" economic growth in all 12 of its districts. In the weeks since mid-April, the majority of tracked regions experienced an uptick in vehicle sales, consumer spending and employment, though the real estate remains mixed.

By late afternoon, the S&P 500 had added 0.19% to 1,927.85, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tiptoed 0.09% higher to 16,736.95, while the Nasdaq, the most-suffering index over the last three months, climbed 0.41% to 4,251.64.

Buoying the S&P 500, General Motors (GM) surged 3.6% to $36.52, ahead of an investor meeting Thursday to update on the widespread recall of a defective ignition switch. The U.S. automaker shrugged off the recall of 13.6 million vehicles since the beginning of the year to post a surprisingly strong 13% increase in sales over May.

Protective Life Corp (PL) spiked 18.1% on news Japanese insurer Dai-ichi Life Insurance had agreed to purchase the company for $5.7 billion.

One of the markets' worst-performing stocks this session, TIBCO Software  (TIBX) tumbled 6% after warning of lower revenue and earnings in its current quarter. The company expects to earn 12 cents to 13 cents a share in its second quarter, nearly half what analysts had expected.

Heavy-volume alternative energy stock FuelCell (FCEL) fell 8% after net losses widened to 4 cents a share, a penny further into the red than forecast.

Likely to influence market direction Thursday, the ECB is expected to tackle concerns of deflation by cutting its benchmark interest rates into negative territory for the first time. Wednesday's weak, first-quarter euro-area economic growth data is expected to increase pressure on central bankers to step in and do something to combat a protracted period of low inflation that's threatening to derail the region's fragile recovery.

The trade balance for April was weaker than expected, with the deficit widening to $47.2 billion. U.S. productivity fell at an annualized rate of 3.2% in the first quarter, faster than the consensus decline of 3%.

--By Keris Alison Lahiff, Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York.

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