Smaller trade deficit boosts Wall Street

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on the first day of opening since Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 31, 2012.
Allison Joyce/Getty Images

WASHINGTON Stocks are solidly higher in mid-morning trading on Wall Street after a report showed that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in December. Stocks were also boosted by strong earnings reports.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 66 points to 14,010 shortly after the opening bell Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up eight points at 1,517 and the Nasdaq composite rose 28 points at 3,192.

The trade deficit fell nearly 21 percent in December from November to $38.6 billion, the Commerce Department said Friday. That's the smallest in nearly three years. The smaller trade gap means the economy likely performed better in the final three months of last year than first estimated last week.

Shares of LinkedIn, the online professional-networking service, jumped $22.86, or 18 percent, to $147 after the company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results late Thursday. Microchip Technology, a semiconductor maker, jumped $2.55 to $36.49 after its earnings beat analysts' estimates and the company said it was seeing "exceptionally strong" bookings.

Wall Street is also bracing for what could be the largest winter storm in more than a year with up to 2 feet of snow forecast along the densely populated Interstate 95 corridor from the New York City area to Boston and beyond.

Markets are little changed for the week, suggesting that a rally that pushed the major indexes close to record levels early this year may have stalled. Many analysts have argued that stocks are overdue for a significant pullback, pointing to a surge in selling by corporate executives of shares in their own companies, mixed earnings reports, continuing troubles in Europe and January's steep advance: The Dow had its best January in almost two decades and is up nearly 7 percent on the year. The S&P 500 is 6.4 percent higher in the same period.

As stocks have gained, Treasurys have slumped. The yield on the 10-year note rose, which moves inversely to its price, rose two basis points to 1.98 percent.