Why the Dow Rose Today

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) was up today after three of its components reported positive earnings.

Index

Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average+65.16 [+0.50%]13,029.26
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) +1.61 [+0.12%]1,378.53

The market has fallen the past two days over poor tech earnings, worse-than-expected home sales, and unemployment numbers, as well as on growing concerns over Europe, specifically Spain. These factors combined to send the market down a little more than 1% over the past two trading days.

Sentiment shifted last night, when Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) reported earnings after hours that beat the Street's expectations. Microsoft reported earnings of $0.60 per share, while analysts had expected $0.58. The company also reported better-than-expected revenue of $17.4 billion versus expectations of $17.2 billion.


Sentiment was further pushed forward by today's earnings reports from General Electric (NYS: GE) and McDonald's. The latter met analyst expectations, while GE beat earnings expectations by a cent. The company reported earnings of $0.33 per share and revenue of $35.2 billion. Both these numbers are down from last quarter -- 12% and 8.2%, respectively -- but were above the drops analysts had expected.

Top winner
As you may have expected, today's top Dow stock was Microsoft, up 4.55% to $32.42. Fool analyst Anders Bylund took a deeper look at the company's earnings. He believes that this news, along with IBM's strong sales, shows that the enterprise-software market is healthy and that it serves as a good sign for the earnings of other high-quality software companies.

Top loser
Bank of America
(NYS: BAC) was today's worst Dow stock, down 4.68% to $8.36. The stock fell all day after top financials analyst Mike Mayo of Credit Agricole Securities downgraded the stock from "underperform"to "sell." Mayobelieves that the company's earnings are poor and questions whether the company will ever reclaim its former strength. He wonders whether "shareholders would be better off with a more downsized company."Bank of America, for its part, has been reviewing its operations and making cuts. For more on Bank of America, Fool Analyst Austin Smith took an in-depth look at the company.

Foolish bottom line
Microsoft's earnings helped move the Dow today, but there are plenty of other companies out there that investors need to watch during this earnings season. Get a free report from The Motley Fool on "5 Stocks Investors Need to Watch This Earning Season," where you'll find information on this quarter's possible big performers. It's completely free for our readers, so access your free report today.

At the time this article was published Dan Dzombakowns shares of Bank of America, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned.Like his Facebook pageto follow his investing articles. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, IBM, and Bank of America.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Microsoft and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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