While a majority of economists acknowledged that the economy is in a recession, the markets closed modestly higher as investors focused on Standard & Poor's prediction that asset writedowns are near an end. The Dow rose 36 points to 12,146 while Nasdaq climbed 20 points to 2264.
On the upside
LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK) has sold nearly all of its solar wafer capacity for both 2008 and 2009.
Creditors of Cumulus Media (Nasdaq: CMLS) agreed to allow the radio station operator to merge with an investment group.
Fourth quarter earnings for JA Solar Holdings (NYSE: JASO) surged as revenue tripled while the company forecast 2008 revenue well ahead of estimates.
On the downside
Lower third quarter revenue for Handleman (NYSE: HDL) weighed down earnings.
Concerns that American International Group (NYSE: AIG) will experience greater than expected losses sent shares of the world's largest insurer lower.
Morgan Stanley issued Thornburg Mortgage (NYSE: TMA) a default notice after the mortgage lender failed to meet a $9 million margin call.
In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of more than 4 to 3 on the NYSE and by nearly 5 to 3 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks surged 12 points to 680.