US SMALL/MIDCAPS-Stocks climb on earnings strength

NEW YORK, April 25 Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:41pm EDT

NEW YORK, April 25 (Reuters) - Mid- and smallcap stocks rose on Wednesday, buoyed by a round of strong earnings reports, highlighted by yet another stellar quarter from Apple.

The iPad maker's quarterly profit almost doubled after a jump in iPhone sales, particularly for the greater China region, and helped shift investors' focus back toward corporate profits after another flare-up of the euro zone's debt crisis on Monday.

"The Apple news creates a halo for the moment, which affects all stocks positively, including small stocks. However, investor attention spans are quite short these days so we will need more positive events if we hope to keep stocks moving on an upward trajectory," said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Clover Investment Advisors in Rochester, New York.

Apple shares rose 8.8 percent to $609.42 and helped lift smaller names like Apple supplier Cirrus Logic Inc, which jumped 9.3 percent to $22.74.

Earnings results hlped spur gains across the board, with each of the 10 S&P sectors among mid- and smallcaps in positive territory.

Panera Bread Co advanced 7 percent to $158.67 after the midcap reported first-quarter profit that topped Wall Street's estimates and raised its full-year outlook.

Midcap chipmaker RF Micro Devices Inc jumped 9.1 percent to $4.33 after posting fourth-quarter results.

"What has been interesting about this earnings season is that positive earnings surprises have been coming from a lot of different corners of our economy. Not all the news is good, but in every sector, in general, companies have surpassed expectations," Creatura said.

The S&P MidCap 400 index and the S&P SmallCap 600 index each gained 1.7 percent. In comparison, the benchmark S&P 500 rose 1.3 percent.

Smallcap Kindred Healthcare Inc surged 22.3 percent to $10.15 after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed a 1.9 percent hike in Medicare payments for long-term acute care hospitals, which was better than anticipated.

Fellow smallcap GeoResources Inc climbed 19.9 percent to $36.90 after it agreed to be acquired by Halcon Resources Corp for about $973 million in a cash-and-stock deal. Halcon shares rose 9.6 percent to $10.19.

Stocks were largely unaffected by the Federal Open Market Committee's statement on the economy and monetary policy, which gave a modestly brighter assessment of the U.S. economy's prospects and reiterated that interest rates probably will not rise until at least late 2014.

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