by Marc Bastow | July 18, 2013 4:56 pm
Strong earnings from the financial sector, a sharp drop in first-time unemployment claims and another day of Ben Bernanke testimony helped markets build on Wednesday’s momentum.
At Thursday’s end, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.5% to close at a record 15548.54, while the S&P 500 also set a new high-water mark, up 0.5% to 1689.37. The Nasdaq finished ahead fractionally, closing at 3611.28.
Bank stocks ruled the day as Morgan Stanley (MS) capped a great second-quarter earnings season for the “Big Six” banks. MS announced a 42% rise in earnings and said the Federal Reserve would allow it to buy back $500 million in stock, prompting investors to send it more than 4% higher. Meanwhile, Bank of America (BAC) rose over 3% to finish at two-year highs, while Wells Fargo (WFC) and JPMorgan (JPM) each finished ahead by roughly 2%.
UnitedHealth Group (UNH) stock rose more than 6% after announcing earnings that came in above estimates and raising its guidance for the remainder of the year.
Overstock.com (OSTK) saw its shares rocket ahead over 22%, breaking through to a record close after reporting earnings that beat both the year-ago period’s profits and Wall Street estimates.
In the tech space, IBM (IBM) headed up by about 2% after Wednesday night’s earnings release showing top- and bottom-line improvement, while Intel (INTC) disappointed and slumped off 4%. Meanwhile, Dell (DELL) inched ahead more than 1% after the company postponed its vote on competing takeover plans.
Finally, shares of wireless manufacturer Nokia (NOK) were spared a bit after announcing a revenue miss, falling fractionally.
After-hours news was dominated by Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT).
Google’s earnings for Q2 slipped from $10.13 per share to $9.71 on revenues that grew to $14.1 billion, both figures falling short. Meanwhile, Microsoft earnings fell a penny per share year-over-year to 66 cents on revenues that improved 10% to $19.9 billion; again, both figures missed analyst expectations. Both stocks were off by roughly 5% in early after-hours trading.
Earnings notables for Friday include General Electric (GE) and Vodafone (VOD).
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he was long MSFT.
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