Major U.S. stock averages open higher Wednesday after upbeat earnings reports from Alcoa and Constellation Brands.



NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock averages opened higher Wednesday after Alcoa(:AA) kicked off the earnings season with an upbeat report Tuesday and Constellation Brands(:STZ) followed up with a solid quarterly release of its own.

Corporate earnings season is expected to kick into high gear next week as the big banks release their quarterly results. Wells Fargo's(:WFC) report is scheduled for this Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was rising more than 47 points, or 0.36%, at 13,376. The S&P 500 was up more than 4 points, or 0.29%, at 1461. The Nasdaq was ahead by more than 9 points, or 0.31%, at 3101.

Major U.S. stock averages slipped for the second straight day on Tuesday as investors waited on the sidelines for the unofficial start of the earnings season with Alcoa's report.

Alcoa reported in-line fourth-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share on revenue of $5.9 billion, which beat top-line estimates . Analysts expected profit of 6 cents a share on revenue of $5.6 billion.

Shares of Alcoa were extending sharp after-hours gains, up 0.93%.

The company said it expected to be in good position for 2013 on global demand growth in aluminum amid a pick-up in the Chinese economic recovery.

"Such anecdotal signs that the belly of the Chinese dragon is starting to rumble again will not go unnoticed by investors around the world," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economist strategist at Miller Tabak.

During an interview with CNBC on the company's earnings, Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld warned that the U.S. must resolve debt ceiling issues or see the destruction of market confidence.

Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG, issued a note saying that fourth-quarter S&P 500 company growth estimates have steadily come down from September, and have been even lower excluding financials.

Greenhaus said that a major reason for the drop in estimates is expectations that the tech sector may take a hit from Apple(:AAPL). Expectations are that the tech giant may suffer a rare year-over-year drop in quarterly earnings.

During this earnings season, investors will also be watching for corporate commentary on whether fourth-quarter profits suffered any collateral damage from the "fiscal cliff" battle.

No major U.S. economic releases were expected for Wednesday.

Gold for February delivery was sliding Wednesday by $2.50 at $1,659.70 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while February crude oil contracts were up 2 cents at $93.17 a barrel.



The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 1/32, diluting the yield to 1.866%. The dollar was up 0.28%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

Overseas markets got a boost from Alcoa's positive report, which offset data showing a smaller-than-expected rise in German industrial output in November. The FTSE 100 in London was higher by 0.74%, while the DAX in Germany was up 0.28% Wednesday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished ahead by 0.46% and the Nikkei Average in Japan rose 0.67% as the yen declined on anticipation of more stimulus from the Bank of Japan.

Wine company Constellation Brands has raised its full-year profit outlook and posted third-quarter earnings of 63 cents a share on revenue of $767 million, blowing past the average analyst estimate of 55 cents a share on revenue of $751.8 million. The company continues to experience strong marketplace momentum across its beer, wine and spirits portfolio, and was "well positioned" during the key holiday selling season.

Shares were advancing more than 2%.

Dish Network(:DISH) offered to acquire Clearwire(:CLWR) for $3.30 a share, or $5.15 billion, topping a bid from Sprint(:S) for the wireless service provider.

Dish shares were down 0.95% while Clearwire shares were surging more than 7.5%.

Seagate Technology(:STX), the disk drive maker, on Tuesday raised revenue guidance for the fiscal second quarter ended Dec. 28.

Seagate said it expects quarterly revenue of at least $3.6 billion, higher than its previous forecast of about $3.5 billion.

Shares were adding more than 3.5%.

Bank of America(:BAC) shares were down 0.42% after the stock was cut to neutral from outperform at Credit Suisse, based on valuation.

Procter & Gamble(:PG) has announced the appointment of Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren to its board of directors, effective immediately. P&G director Johnathan Rodgers has decided not to seek re-election at P&G's annual shareholder meeting in October, choosing to retire from the board at that time.

Shares were up 0.69%.

Apollo Group(:APOL) shares were plunging more than 10.5% after the private education provider slashed its fiscal 2013 operating income outlook.

Mastercard(:MA) shares were up more than 1% after the stock was upgraded by Goldman Sachs.

Dunkin Brands(:DNKN) shares were rising more than 1% after the stock was upgraded at Janney.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.



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