Investors regain confidence, stocks regain lost ground

After a nervy lead into the earnings seasons yesterday, stock prices have been buoyant today, particularly in the technology sector, fuelling a 1.9% rise in the NASDAQ 100.

A 4% rise in Intel has helped all three leading stock index benchmarks, two days before the chip maker reports for its last quarter. The company’s share price rose after JP Morgan upgraded the stock, claiming 2014 will see an end to declines in the PC market.

‘We believe the PC market will remain relatively stable in 2014, and we believe Intel's new CEO will continue to provide realistic guidance and focus on areas where Intel has an advantage - thereby improving margins and returns,’ the note said.

Into the last hour of trading in New York, the Dow was up 0.58% or 95 points at 16,352. The S&P 500 gained more than 1%.

One concern in last quarter’s GDP data was how business inventories had risen, putting a question mark over how well demand would be able to cope with such a heavy inventory burden. The Commerce Department announced today, though, that business inventories rose just 0.4% in November, against a 0.8% increase in business sales (the best sales since May), which means the stock-to-sales ratio remained constant at 1.29.

We have the producer price index for December tomorrow, as well as the Empire State manufacturing survey and the Fed’s Beige Book. There have been zero inflation pressures shown in data for many months now and given the flat nature of today’s report on December import prices I would not expect tomorrow’s PPI to show any significant pick-up in core prices.

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