J.C. Penney Company
J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE: JCP) shares slid as it joined rivals including Macy's Inc and Kohl's Corp in reporting a drop in sales in a quarter marked by a slump in apparel demand. Reuters

U.S. stocks rallied Wednesday, as the S&P 500 closed at a record high, after investors weighed better-than-expected manufacturing data and strong earnings from Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 108.08 points, or 0.66 percent, to close at 16,481.94. The S&P 500 Index rose 9.50 points, or 0.52 percent, to end at 1,848.38. The Nasdaq Composite gained 31.87 points, or 0.76 percent, to finish at 4,214.88.

Shares of J.C. Penney Company Inc. (NYSE:JCP) fell 0.14 percent to $7.00 in extended-hours trading after the retailer announced it plans to close 33 stores and lay off 2,000 employees.

"As we continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth, it is necessary to re-examine the financial performance of our store portfolio and adjust our national footprint accordingly," said Mike Ullman III, chief executive officer of JCPenney. "While it's always difficult to make a business decision that impacts our valued customers and associates, this important step addresses a strategic priority to improve the profitability of our stores and position JCPenney for future success."

The retailer added that remaining inventory in the affected stores will be sold over the next several months, with the closings expected to be complete by early May.

The news comes a week after J.C. Penney reaffirmed its outlook for the fourth quarter of 2013, and said “Customers responded well to the company's offerings this holiday shopping season, both in store and online.”

The company said in its third-quarter earnings statement on Nov. 20 that it expects comparable store sales and gross margin to improve sequentially and year-over-year. In addition, capital expenditures are expected to be nearly $175 million in the fourth-quarter, including accrued and unpaid expenditures and approximately $300 million for the company’s fiscal 2014 year. The retailer said inventory is expected to be approximately $2.85 billion by year's end.

"The spirit and determination of our associates has enabled us to maintain our momentum going into the fourth quarter. We are committed to building on our progress by winning this holiday season," said Ullman. "The continued strong support of our domestic and international suppliers has helped ensure our merchandise assortment is outstanding. Furthermore, our new marketing campaign, which launched this week, will help remind customers that JCPenney is the destination for great holiday gifts that fit their budget."

On Wednesday, shares of J.C. Penney rose 1.15 percent to close at $7.01.

Meanwhile, shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) rose 2.01 percent to close at $557.36 on Wednesday after the tech giant’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook called the Apple-China Mobile deal a “watershed” moment during an interview with China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua on CNBC.

China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) will begin selling iPhones in China on Friday, and Cook expects the deal to boost sales in world's largest smartphone market.

In separate news, Apple will refund consumers at least $32.5 million to settle a complaint that U.S. consumers were billed for charges incurred by children through mobile apps without their parents' consent.

“This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple’s unfair billing, and a signal to the business community: whether you’re doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize.”

Apple stock edged up 0.29 percent to $558.99 in after-hours trading.

Shares of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) fell 1.60 percent to close at $39.38 after the automaker forecast modest global growth in 2014 as it plans to spend money to restructure weakness overseas.

“We continue to perform well in the two most important markets in the world, the U.S. and China,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. “We’re taking advantage of our strength in these countries to restructure and make the investments necessary to grow profitably in other parts of the world.”

The news comes a day after the company named Chuck Stevens as executive vice president and chief financial officer effective immediately, replacing Dan Ammann, who becomes company president on Wednesday.

“Chuck’s extensive experience in leading finance operations and driving profitable growth all around the world makes him the perfect choice to help our team drive GM’s global performance to new heights,” said Barra.

GM stock edged up 0.30 percent to $39.50 in extended-hours trading.

On Thursday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) report earnings results before the market opens, followed by Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) after the close of trading.