by Marc Bastow | May 1, 2012 5:07 pm
The Dow reached a four-year high today as strong manufacturing news from China and the U.S. combined with continued positive earnings momentum to get May off to a rousing start.
The Dow touched the 13,339 mark, its highest since December 2007 before settling at 13,279, up 0.5%. The S&P was up 0.57% to 1,406, and the Nasdaq finished at 3,050, up 0.13%.
The Dow rally was broad-based, as more than 70% of the index stocks finished the day ahead.
U.S. manufacturing showed better-than-expected growth in April according to the ISM Manufacturing Index, which jumped from 53.4 in March to 54.8 in April. This trumped the consensus estimate, which called for a drop to 53.
The Chinese government also announced that the country’s manufacturing sector continued to improve for the fifth consecutive month, climbing from 53.1 in March to 53.3 in April.
A reading of 50 or higher is a signal of expansion in both the U.S. and China.
Results were mixed on the earnings front, as BP (NYSE:BP) joined with fellow oil stocks Exxon (NYSE:XOM) and Conoco (NYSE:COP) in a disappointing first quarter. BP finished down 1.6% at $42.70, while XOM and Conoco bucked the trend, with XOM up just under 1% and Conoco climbing 3.5%.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) also reported disappointing results as first-quarter revenues fell 7% to $15.4 billion from $16.5 billion in the year-ago quarter. Net income dropped 19% to $1.79 billion, or 24 cents per diluted share, compared to net income of $2.22 billion, or 28 cents per share last year.
Cosmetics maker Avon (NYSE:AVP) also struggled, as earnings disappointed analysts and investors alike, causing the stock to plunge 8% to $19.89 on the news.
P.F. Chang’s (NASDAQ:PFCB) climbed 30% as private equity firm Centerbridge Partners entered a deal to take the restaurant chain private.
Tomorrow’s earnings release notables include Clorox (NYSE:CLX), Marathon (NYSE:MRO), Visa (NYSE:V), Sunoco (NYSE:SUN), and Allstate (NYSE:ALL).
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor of InvestorPlace. He is long XOM as of this writing.
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