The markets opened higher as investors awaited the latest report on existing home sales and the outcome of the New Hampshire primary. The Dow climbed 70 points to 12,897 while Nasdaq surged 25 points to 2525.
On the upside
Shares of Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) continued to rally after the world's largest coffee chain operator announced the return of former CEO and chairman Howard Schultz.
Avon Products (NYSE: AVP) announced job cuts and plans to take restructuring charges in the 4th quarter.
An analyst upgraded MetroPCS Communications (NYSE: PCS) after seeing rival Leap Wireless strong subscriber growth over the holiday season.
On the downside
KB Home (NYSE: KBH) posted a wider 4th quarter loss as one of the nation's largest home builder booked tax valuation allowance and charges to write down unsold inventory.
Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) offered $1.2 billion to buy Norway-based search engine company Fast Search & Transfer ASA.
Railcar manufacturer Greenbrier (NYSE: GBX) posted higher revenues, but higher earnings were offset by one-time charges.
In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of more than 3 to 1 on the NYSE and by more than 2 to 1 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks rose 10 points to 734.
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