2:25 PM New York – U.S. stocks advanced and investors views the latest economic data with caution as inclement weather affects economic activities across the nation. Industrial output in January unexpectedly declined 0.8% and U.S. consumer confidence was better than expected this month. Rakuten acquires Viber Media for $900 million.
U.S. stocks extended gains as investors digested economic data with a caution and inclement weather in much of the nation impacted transportation and operating of federal government, schools and retail trade.
S&P 500 index increased 0.5% or 8.7 to 1,838.56 and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 4.4 or 0.1% to 4,254.03.
Industrial output in January unexpectedly declined 0.8%, the largest decline since May 2009, following revised 0.3% increase in the previous month.
U.S. consumer confidence rose more than expected in February, according to a preliminary index tracked by Thomson Reuters and University Michigan.
The index held at 81.2 this month.
In world markets, India reported wholesale inflation in January declined to an 8-month low and industrial production shrank 0.6% in December. Economists are still estimating India to report economic growth in the current fiscal year ending in March at 4.9%, an increase from 4.5% in fiscal 2013 when growth dropped to a ten year low.
Argentina adjusted its inflation data reflecting international standards and meeting the demands of IMF and Paris Club donors.
The government reported January inflation rate of 3.7% after under stating the inflation for seven years in a row.
The sharp increase in inflation was widely anticipated but the clear reporting positively surprised markets and investors.
Argentina had reported annual inflation of 10.9% in 2013 compared to 28% inflation rate estimated by several private economists.
Governments around the world understate inflation in the economy, including persistent inflation data underreporting in the U.S.
Rakuten Inc, the Japanese online retailer agreed to acquire Viber Media, Internet messaging and calling service for $900 million. Viber has 225 million members in 193 countries.
The company is looking to expand its sales from Japan to overseas and has led number investments in smaller enterprises in Europe and the U.S.
Stocks reacted to earnings and economic news in the euro zone region. The economy in the region advanced at a faster than expected pace led by Germany and France.
Gross domestic product in the euro area increase increased 0.3% in the final quarter in 2013 following 0.1% rise in third quarter. The data was released by the statistics office in Luxembourg.
In London trading FTSE 100 index increased 0.1% or 4.2 to 6,664 and in Frankfurt the DAX index added 0.7% or 65.6 to 9,662.
In Paris trading, CAC 40 index increased 0.6% or 27.3 to 4,340.
In Italy, FTSE MIB increased 1.6% to a high not seen since 2011 after Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigned and pave the path for a new government that may be led by Matteo Renzi.