A drop in oil prices and strong earnings at PepsiCo Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. sent stocks higher Wednesday, with the Dow surging more than 100 points. Reports that Pfizer Inc. might sell its consumer products business contributed to the advance.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 108.86, or 1 percent, to 10,858.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 10.87, or 0.9 percent, to 1,265.65. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 22.02, or 1 percent, to 2,266.98.
Local movers were led by First Regional Bancorp, which gained 2 percent to $80.45. On the down side, Amgen Inc. slipped 1.2 percent to $72.05, Arden Group Inc. dipped 1.7 percent to $87.49 and Herbalife Ltd. fell 2.4 percent to $34.70.
Shares of Stamps.com Inc. soared 23.1 percent to $30.99 after the L.A.-based Internet-based postage provider reported that its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, fueled by strong demand for its PhotoStamps product. Its full-year revenue and earnings outlook was also about analysts' estimates.
Univision Communications Inc. gained 12 percent to $34.20 after the Los Angeles-based Spanish-language broadcaster confirmed reports that is mulling putting itself up for sale. Its board decided to begin a process to explore strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value, which could include a sale or a merger of the company with another entity.
Computer Sciences Corp. jumped 4.5 percent to $51.55 after the El Segundo-based technology services company reported late Tuesday that its third-quarter earnings rose 29 percent, beating analysts' targets, on higher revenue from its federal government and U.S. commercial operations.
Cheesecake Factory Inc. lost 2.4 percent to $36.42 after the Calabasas Hills-based casual dining restaurants operator's stock rating was downgraded to "peerperform" from "outperform" by Bear Stearns & Co. Bear Stearns said it's lowering the fiscal 2006 and 2007 estimates primarily due to slower-than-expected square-footage growth related to delays for opening some of the chain's new locations.
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