* Internet, biotech stocks lead gains
* Fed minutes scheduled for release at 2:00 p.m. EDT
* Senator opposes Comcast deal to buy Time Warner Cable
* Indexes up: Dow 0.3 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.7 pct
(Updates to midday)
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, April 9 U.S. stocks rose for a second
session on Wednesday, buoyed by a rise in Alcoa shares
ahead of the release of minutes from the latest Federal Open
Market Committee meeting.
Alcoa Inc gained 3.6 percent to $12.98 as the best
performer on the S&P 500 after it reported a decline in first
quarter adjusted profit but earnings still came in ahead of
S&P 500 companies' first-quarter earnings are projected to
have increased just 1 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters
data showed. The forecast is down sharply from the start of the
year, when profit growth was estimated at 6.5 percent.
U.S. stocks had advanced in the prior session to snap a
three-day losing streak as investors bought beaten-down social
media and Internet shares.
Despite the three-day selloff, the benchmark S&P 500 index
managed to hold above its 50-day moving average around
1,840, a key support level. The index has successfully defended
the 1,840 area several times over the past month.
The day's gains were gain led by Internet and biotechnology
stocks that had tumbled recently.
The Nasdaq biotechnology index was up 2.2 percent at
2,409.72 and the Global X social media index was up 1.8
percent at $18.83.
"In recent days, in general, large caps outperformed small
caps, and low-beta companies outperformed those with higher
betas," said U.S. Bank Wealth Management's equity research team,
in a note to clients. Low beta refers to less volatile stocks
that also offer less potential return.
"While investor sentiment remains fragile, we continue to
maintain a constructive outlook for equities, believing that the
path of least resistance is still up."
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 55.81 points or
0.34 percent, to 16,311.95, the S&P 500 gained 5.55
points or 0.3 percent, to 1,857.51 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 28.137 points or 0.68 percent, to 4,141.123.
Year-to-date, five of the ten S&P 500 Index sectors are up
and five are down, according to Wells Fargo Advisors. The
utility sector leads the rest with a 9.5 percent increase, while
the consumer discretionary sector has been the greatest laggard
with a 5.5 percent decline.
The Fed is expected to release the minutes from its March
meeting at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT). The Fed needs to be more specific
about what economic conditions would prompt it to raise interest
rates from current rock-bottom levels, a pair of top Fed
officials normally at odds on policy said on Tuesday.
Earnings season gets under way this week, with results due
from retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond after the close, while
financials JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co
close out the week with results on Friday.
Investors will be looking at the impact of harsh winter
weather on first-quarter earnings, and signs of optimism for the
U.S. wholesale inventories rose at a slower 0.5 percent pace
in February, in line with expectations, after a revised 0.8
percent gain in January, which could support views that
restocking did not help the economy in the first quarter.
General Motors Co shares lost 2 percent to $33.83.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the
automaker is being fined $7,000 a day for missing an April 3
deadline to provide information about its recall of 2.6 million
cars for defective ignition switches. Morgan Stanley
subsequently cut the stock to "underweight."
Intuitive Surgical Inc estimated first-quarter
revenue well below analysts' average expectation, mainly due to
a 60 percent drop in sales of its flagship da Vinci robot
system. Its shares slumped 7 percent to $455.27. The PHLX
medical device index lost 0.3 percent.
Constant Contact Inc surged 27.8 percent to $28.02
after the online marketer said it expects quarterly revenue to
rise by more than 15 percent.
Shares of Blackstone-backed hotel chain La Quinta Holdings
Inc made a subdued market debut as investors took the
view the stock was fully priced in a crowded IPO market. La
Quinta's shares, which priced below the expected range at $17,
fell as much as 4 percent in early trading but rose nearly 3
percent to $17.50 by midday.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Nick Zieminski)