Midday Market Update: Commodities, Wal-Mart Earnings Carry Markets to Early Gains

By Jason Simpkins
Associate Editor

Strong earnings from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) and soaring commodity prices helped U.S. markets to their first increase in three trading days today (Tuesday).

Wal-Mart announced a record fourth fiscal quarter, as sales exceeded $100 billion. Wal-Mart is the first retailer to ever cross that threshold in a single quarter. Net sales were $106.269 billion, up 8.3% from the same period a year ago.

Wal-Mart is seen as a bellwether for domestic consumer spending in the United States, which will have to rely heavily on consumer spending to steer clear of recession in coming months. Wal-Mart shares were trading at $50 a share, up more than half a point (1.11%).

At noon ET, the three major U.S. stock indices were up. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average Index climbed 78.97 points (0.64%), to trade at 12,427.18. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 11.46 points (0.49%), to reach 2,333.28. And the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 8.2 points (0.61%), to 1,358.16.

Meanwhile, gold climbed more than 2.5% to $931.40 an ounce, and oil was up 2.75% trading above $98 a barrel. Exxon Mobil (XOM) was up 2.5%, trading at $87.50 a share. BHP Billiton Ltd (BHP), the world’s largest mining company soared 5.5% to $73.82 a share and Anglo American plc (AAUK), the world’s second largest mining company, rose 2.4% to $30.77 a share.

In overseas trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index climbed 122 points (0.9%) to close at 13,757.91. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 363.92 (1.53%). And in the United Kingdom, the FTSE 100 was up 20.3 points (0.34%), to close at 5,966.9.

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