Consumer Confidence Rises, Markets Open Higher

Consumer confidence climbed in December to lift the markets to a modestly higher open with the Dow rising 19 points to 12,313. Nasdaq added 5 points to 2624.

On the upside

A new round of rigorous testing by Mead Johnson Nutrition (NYSE: MJN) on its Enfamil Premium newborn formula revealed no presence of the bacteria Cronobacter.

Ventas (NYSE: VTR) will acquire Cogdell Spencer (NYSE: CSA) in an all cash deal valued at approximately $760 million including the assumption of debt.

Magnum Hunter (NYSE: MHR) lifted its production guidance for 2011 and 2012.

On the downside

Sears Holdings (Nasdaq: SHLD) will close between 100 to 120 stores.

Computer Sciences (NYSE: CSC) must recognize an impairment charge in the third quarter of up to $1.5 billion.

Sidoti downgraded Whirlpool (NYSE: WHR) to a Neutral rating.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of nearly 10 to 9 on the NYSE while decliners edged out advancers by more than 7 to 5 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks held steady at 747.

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