by Marc Bastow | July 18, 2012 5:22 pm
U.S. markets kept one eye on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke as he testified in front of Congress for a second day, but its mind was focused squarely on earnings releases and a housing report that both surprised and delighted, setting the stage for a broad rally.
Intel‘s (NASDAQ:INTC) earnings release after the bell on Tuesday included a warning about future earnings and growth. However, investors likely had already baked the news in, and INTC shares gained 3.5% on the day, helping to lead a strong tech rally that carried along chip-maker Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) for a 4% ride. The tide lifted all boats, as Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) rose more than 3%, while titans Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) and recently struggling Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) finished over 2%.
The tech rally carried the Nasdaq to a 1.12% gain to end at 2,942, while the Dow rose 0.8% to 12,908 and the S&P managed a 0.67% gain to finish at 1,372.
Tech’s reign continued after the bell Wednesday. eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) reported strong second-quarter results to lift the stock around 5% in after-hours trading. IBM shares rose another 1.75% on lower revenues but higher earnings. And Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) was tacking 2% more onto the day’s nearly 3% gain despite predictions of lower revenues and earnings in Q4.
Also Wednesday, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) reported strong quarterly results — EPS came in at a Street-beating 19 cents per share on revenue of just more than $22 billion — but the market reacted negatively to the news, sending shares down over 4% on the day.
The banking sector as a whole struggled as investors try to make sense of the slew of earnings. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) sank more than 2% on the day, while Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) lost over 1.5%. U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB) bucked the trend, however, finishing up more than 1% after topping analyst estimates for earnings and showing an increase in revenues. After the bell, American Express (NYSE:AXP) announced a miss on revenues, and shares were about 1% lower in early after-market trading.
In other earnings news, Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE:SWK) managed to pop nearly 6% despite an earnings drop and lowered expectations for the remainder of the year, while Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) was down fractionally on disappointing earnings that narrowly beat estimates.
Thursday unleashes a torrent of earnings reports, including Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM) and Travelers (NYSE:TRV).
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he was long INTC and MSFT.
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