RTTNews - Stocks are holding onto solid gains in mid-afternoon trading on Wednesday after recovering from some initial weakness. The major averages are all in positive territory, looking for the second straight day of gains.

With a light economic calendar today, traders had a chance pay extra attention to quarterly earnings figures from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Deere & Co. (DE) and BJ's Wholesale Club (BJ), which beat analyst estimates, moderating some of the day's pessimism.

After the closing bell today, NetApp (NTAP), Limited Brands (LTD), and Harman International (HAR) are scheduled to report their quarterly results among others.

In other news, Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, chief economist of Ford Motor Co. (F), was quoted as saying that economic indicators in the U.S are showing that a recovery is already underway and that auto sales seem to be stabilizing. Hughes-Cromwick also predicted that Ford would see an improvement in sales in 2010.

The major averages have seen some mild downside in recent trading but continue to post notable gains. The Dow is currently up 65.37 at 9,283.31, the Nasdaq is up 11.26 at 1,967.18 and the S&P 500 is up 6.60 at 996.27.

Dow Components

A majority of the Dow components are on the rise, contributing to the notable gain being shown by the blue chip index in mid-afternoon trading.

Merck (MRK) is leading the Dow higher, with the drug giant currently up 3.5 percent after reaching a ten-month intraday high. The gain comes after the U.S. District Court of New Jersey ruled in favor of Merck in a patent infringement suit against Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA).

Pfizer (PFE) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) are also on the rise, climbing by 2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. Pfizer is poised to close at a three-week high, while the upward move by shares of Exxon is lifting the stock off of the one-month closing low set on Tuesday.

While Kraft Foods (KFT), DuPont (DD) and Chevron (CVX) are also moving higher, Alcoa (AA) is retreating by a notable margin, posting a loss of 3.5 percent. The loss comes after Goldman Sachs lowered its rating on the stock to Neutral from its Americas Buy List, citing valuation and the Alcoa's historically high inventories.

Sector News

The resource sector continues to turn in a strong performance, with oil, oil service gold and natural gas stock being helped by an increase in commodity price on the NYMEX.

Notably, the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is up by 1.6 percent, boosted by shares of Southwestern Energy (SWN). Southwestern is posting gain of 3.1 percent, bouncing further off of the five-week low set on Monday.

While biotechnology, pharmaceutical and chemical stocks are also showing strong upward moves, commercial real estate stocks continue to tread in negative territory. The Morgan Stanley REIT Index is down 1.3 percent, moving further off the nine-month high set earlier this month.

The weakness among real estate stocks comes after the National Association of Realtors reported that its Commercial Leading Indicator for Brokerage Activity fell by 1.3 percent to 101.5 in the second quarter, the lowest since the first quarter of 1994.

Additionally, airline and healthcare related stocks are also retreating, although by more modest margins. Healthcare stocks are continuing to see uncertainty as lawmakers debate the fine points of healthcare reform in town hall meetings across the nation.

In Focus: Earnings News

As mentioned above, Hewlett-Packard reported third quarter earnings of $0.91 per share after the bell Tuesday, beating the consensus estimate of $0.90 per share. The company expects to report fourth quarter earnings of $1.12 per share compared to the forecast of $1.07 per share.

Deere & Co. reported third-quarter net income of $0.99 per share, compared with $1.32 per share in the same period last year. The results topped Wall Street estimates of $0.57 per share.

Deere's total net sales and revenues declined to $5.89 billion from $7.74 billion in the prior year quarter but still beat forecasts of $5.25 billion. Looking forward, Deere said it expects full year net income of $1.1 billion despite expectations for the largest single-year sales decline in at least 50 years.

BJ's Wholesale Club reported second quarter net income of $0.64 per share, compared to $0.61 per share in the prior year quarter. Analysts had expected the firm to earn $0.62 per share.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region finished notably lower on Wednesday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined by 1.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets ended the day little changes, with the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index finishing just below the unchanged mark, while the German DAX Index fell by 0.4 percent.

In the bond markets, treasuries are showing notable gains but have moved well off of their best levels of the day. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note is trading at 3.476 percent, posting loss of 5.0 basis points.

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