Fed Maintains Low Rates, Markets Close Higher

Investors welcomed the Federal Reserve's decision to maintain low interest rates until at least 2014 by lifting the markets to a high close with the Dow climbing 83 points to 12,758. Nasdaq soared 31 points to 2818.

On the upside

Fourth quarter earnings slipped for US Airways (NYSE: LCC) but the results surpassed analyst expectations by a wide margin and the airliner confirmed that it was exploring the possibility of merging with bankrupt American Airlines.

Societe Generale upgraded Encana (NYSE: ECA) to a Buy rating.

Rising gold prices lifted shares of U. S. Gold (NYSE: UXG), Iamgold (NYSE: IAG) and Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY).

On the downside

Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) reported lower fourth quarter earnings and forecast current quarter earnings below expectations.

Fourth quarter earnings rose for RPC (NYSE: RES) but the results fell short of analyst expectations and the company warned that lower natural gas production this year will negatively impact earnings.

RockTenn (NYSE: RKT) reported lower first quarter earnings that fell short of analyst expectations.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of more than 3 to 1 on the NYSE and by 2 to 1 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks climbed 7 points to 795.

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