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Stocks higher amid earnings parade

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Stocks higher amid earnings parade

Stocks are higher Wednesday as investors digest a slew of earnings reports in the wake of a Japan benchmark hitting a 15-year high. As of 2:08 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average is 0.5% higher and the S&P 500 is up 0.5%. The Nasdaq composite is 0.4% higher. All three started the day in the black and then nosed into the red before recovering.1215-stock-market_full_600

The Nasdaq is within 20 points of its all-time closing high of 5,048.62, set 15 long years ago. Dow icons McDonald’s and Coca-Cola — with shares of MCD and KO each up 1% or more on the companies’ earnings reports — are helping pull the blue chips higher. So is fellow Dow member Visa, with V up 4%-plus on news that China is opening its bank processing market to foreign providers.

But Dow stalwart Boeing, with shares of BA off 2%-plus on its earnings news, is preventing an outright takeoff for the index. Existing home sales in March leaped to their fastest pace in 18 months, making a well-timed upturn at the start of the peak spring buying season. Sales rose 6.1% — the largest increase since December 2010 — to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

Asian stocks ended higher Wednesday after Japan reported its first trade surplus in nearly three years in March, thanks to falling import costs from cheaper oil prices, along with a modest recovery in exports. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 1.1% to close at 20,133.90 — the first time it closed above the 20,000-level in 15 years. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.3% and the Shanghai Composite surged 2.4%. European shares ended mostly lower Wednesday. Among the hardest-hit benchmarks was Germany’s DAX, off 0.6%.