The markets opened higher with the Dow adding 21 points to 12,960 as jobless claims held steady at the lowest level since the recession. Nasdaq rose 5 points to 2939.
On the upside
A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommended approval for Vivus' (Nasdaq: VVUS) obesity treatment Qnexa. The news also lifted rivals Arena Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ARNA) and Orexigen Therapeutics (Nasdaq: OREX).
MetroPCS (NYSE: PCS) impressed with sharply higher fourth quarter earnings that surpassed analyst expectations.
On the downside
Genco Shipping (NYSE: GNK) priced its offering of 7.5 million common shares at the discounted price of $7.10 per share.
Safeway (NYSE: SWY) blamed higher commodity expenses for lower fourth quarter earnings.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) disappointed with sharply lower fourth quarter earnings and forecast current quarter results below analyst estimates.
In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of more than 7 to 5 on the NYSE and by more than 9 to 7 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks added 2 points to 819.