Financials Save Markets from Downward Spiral

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At last!  Stocks finally broke their six-day skid in dramatic fashion, as markets rose across the board on positive earnings reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) surged 1.62%, with all components posting gains, except for the lowly Hewlett-Packard.  Likewise, the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) climbed 1.65% 

With earnings season entering full swing, investors should expect some dramatic days going forward.  Today, JP Morgan crushed quarterly earnings estimates, fueling the Dow's  jump.  While the company reported the trading loss had reached $5.8 billion so far, it still posted $5 billion in profit. Second quarter earnings reached $1.21 per share, far exceeding analyst estimates of $0.70 per share, according to a Reuter's poll. JP Morgan shares led the Dow, climbing 6%. Bank of America shares also rose 4.5% seemingly by association.

Markets thrived as quantitative easing rumors are heating up in China after the country announced its GDP growth rate fell to 7.6% year-over-year for the second quarter. This continues a series of six straight quarterly declines, and the slowest rate of growth since the first quarter of 2009. Economists expected such a slowdown, but its effect on global markets is still to be determined.  However, there are signs that growth has already bottomed out.


Markets in Focus
Moving over to individual stocks, energy company Phillips 66 (NYS: PSX) rose to the top of the S&P 500, climbing 6% after Warren Buffet told Bloomberg that he reduced his holdings in ConocoPhillips to establish a position in Phillips 66.  Phillips, like other refiners, has taken advantage of improving margins due to falling oil prices. Phillips 66 only recently joined the S&P 500, and used to be a part of ConocoPhillips. The energy sector as a whole was up 1.5%.

However,  financials, pushed by JP Morgan's earnings, gained the most out of all S&P sectors, surging 1.86%. Beyond the Dow banks, Citigroup rose 6.1%, posting the largest gain on S&P 500. Investors are hopeful that Citigroup will follow JP Morgan's lead and crush expectations when it announces its quarterly results on Monday. Another S&P 500 bank, Hudson City Bancorp (NAS: HCBK) , gained 3.5%. The bank's generous dividend and recovery potential make fellow Fool Robert Eberhard believe that this company could be a great addition to your portfolio.

Unfortunately, not every stock could join in the party to close out the week.  Shares of Lexmark International plunged 16% after the printer maker warned second-quarter profits would miss expectations following weak demand, especially due to European economic woes.  Rival printer-makers Hewlett-Packard and Xerox (NYS: XRX) also fell on the news.  Xerox shares were down almost 2%.  Investors seem to be worried that Xerox, which announces second quarter earnings on July 20, will miss expectations for similar reasons. Xerox seems unable to catch a break, dropping 27%, so far this year.

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At the time this article was published Foolish internCharlie Kannelowns no shares of the companies mentioned above.The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
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