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The Markets Now: Stocks Move Higher After Positive Earnings, Jobless Claims Reports

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Plus, the Kansas Fed reports that manufacturing activity continues to decline in its region.

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Several companies reported quarterly earnings today and yesterday that beat analysts' estimates, helping stocks move higher. Plus, initial weekly unemployment claims decreased last week. The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) increased 0.46% to 14,743.37. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) climbed 0.60% to 1,588.28, and the Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 0.78% to 3,295.23.

The Department of Labor reported today that seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims decreased 16,000 week-over-week for the week ending April 20. The four-week moving average fell 4,500 to 357,000. For the week ending April 13, continuing jobless claims decreased 93,000 to 3,000,000. The four-week moving average dipped 17,500 to 3,071,750. Read the full report here.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City reported today in its Manufacturing Survey for the Federal Reserve's 10th District that the composite index remained at -5 in April, indicating that manufacturing activity declined at the same pace as in March. Last year, April's reading was -6. Read the full report here.

Bloomberg reported today that its Consumer Comfort Index decreased 0.7 week-over-week to -29.9 for the week ending April 21. The personal finance component of the index reached 3.5, its highest reading in ten months. Read the press release here.

The US Energy Information Administration, or EIA, reported today that natural gas in storage increased 30 billion cubic feet week-over-week to 1,734 billion cubic feet for the week ending April 19. Read the press release here.

The US Treasury announced today that it will auction $29 billion worth of 3-month Treasury bills and $24 billion worth of 6-month US Treasury bills on April 29. The Treasury also announced today that it will auction $23 billion worth of 12-month Treasury bills on April 30. At 1 p.m. ETD today, the Treasury will hold its monthly auction of 7-year Treasury notes.

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors will report on its balance sheet and the US money supply today 4:30 p.m. EDT.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) spiked 19.09% to $21.70. The largest iron-ore producer reported yesterday a first-quarter net income of $107 million, or $0.66 per share, compared to $357.8 million, or $2.63 per share, in the prior-year quarter. Sales declined 5.9% year-over-year to $1.14 billion. In the past six months, the company has idled mines, cut its dividend by 76%, and sold $995 million worth of equity and depositary shares after the price of iron ore declined.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) increased 1.73% to $32.31. The software company sold EUR550 million ($719 million) of 20-year bonds to take advantage of the low borrowing costs. This marks the first time that Microsoft sold bonds denominated in euros. It also announced yesterday that it will reveal its next generation Xbox video game console on May 21.

Carnival Corporation (NYSE:CCL) climbed 3.81% to $34.59. Competitor Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL) reported a first-quarter net income of $76.2 million, a 62% year-over-year increase, and revenue of $1.91 billion, which beat Wall Street estimates of $1.90 billion.

The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) jumped 4.91% to $33.75. The largest US chemical maker by sales reported today a first-quarter net income of $550 million, or $0.46, compared to $412 million, or $0.35 per share, in the prior-year quarter. Excluding one-time items, profit was $0.69 per share. Sales fell to $14.4 billion from $14.7 billion a year ago.

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) plunged 5.86% to $62.13. The mobile chip maker reported yesterday a fiscal second-quarter net income of $1.87 billion, or $1.06 per share, compared to $2.2 billion, or $1.28 per share, in the prior-year quarter. Adjusted earnings were $2.07 billion, or $1.17 per share. Revenue climbed 24% to $6.12 billion.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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