After Market: A Golden Beige Book Lifts Dow to New Record

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Strong earnings and positive signs coming from the world's two largest economies pushed the Dow Jones industrial average to a new record high Wednesday.

The Fed's beige book showed consumer spending up in all of its districts, and second quarter growth in China rose more than expected. On top of that, the day's corporate earnings were largely strong triggering a surge of buying on Wall Street.

The Dow (^DJI) gained 77 points to close at a new high of 17,138 points, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 9 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) was up by 8 points.

Earnings drove Intel's (INTC) stock sharply higher. Shares gained more than 9 percent after it beat expectations, raised its guidance, announced more buybacks, and said the worst was over for the battered PC market. Fellow chipmaker AMD (AMD) rose 3 percent.

Hospital operator HCA Holdings (HCA) rallied hard on the back of its earnings report. Its shares gained 10.5 percent after raising its guidance. Tenet Healthcare (THC) also had a great day, rising 8.5 percent. And railroad giant CSX (CSX) gained slightly on stronger revenue.

Bank of America's (BAC) earnings fell largely because of legal costs, and the stock dropped with it down 2 percent. PNC Financial's (PNC) earnings also fell and shareholders offloaded the stock down 3.5 percent.

Yahoo (YHOO) came out with its earnings after the bell Tuesday, and so far, investors aren't feeling it. The stock fell 5 percent after the company posted a drop in profits in the last quarter.

There was lots of action in the media business. Time Warner (TWX) gained a whopping 17 percent after rejecting an offer from 21st Century Fox (FOXA) which fell 6 percent. Analysts expect lots of consolidation in the industry, which helped boost some of the big players. Discovery (DISCA) gained 6 percent, Scripps Networks (SNI) jumped almost 5 percent and Viacom (VIAB), the owner of CBS, was up more than 3 percent.

And IBM (IBM) shares traded higher after announcing it would be working with its former rival, Apple, to develop business apps. IBM was up 2 percent, Apple (AAPL) fell half a percent.
Blackberry (BBRY) though didn't do well on the back of that news. Its stock was lower by almost 12 percent.

But casino equipment maker International Game Technology (IGT) had a stellar day gaining 9 percent after news Italy's GTech SpA, a lottery operator, is buying it.

-Produced by Karina Huber.

What to Watch Thursday:
  • At 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Commerce Department releases housing starts for June; the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims; and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia releases its survey business conditions in the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates at 10 a.m.
The major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:
  • Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
  • Baker Hughes (BHI)
  • Baxter International (BAX)
  • Blackstone Group (BX)
  • Capital One Financial (COF)
  • Credit Suisse (CS)
  • Google (GOOG)
  • IBM (IBM)
  • Mattel (MAT)
  • Morgan Stanley (MS)
  • Novartis (NVS)
  • Philip Morris International (PM)
  • PPG Industries (PPG)
  • SAP (SAP)
  • Seagate Technology (STX)
  • Sherwin Williams (SHW)
  • Stryker (SYK)
  • UnitedHealth Group (UNH)
6 Little Changes You Can Make to Save Big Bucks
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After Market: A Golden Beige Book Lifts Dow to New Record
Most of us spend a ton of time researching our options when we first sign up for a plan or policy, then forget all about it and make monthly payments like a robot. But this can cost you.

If you've been on the same cell phone plan for a while, or you haven't looked at the terms of your insurance policies (home, life, auto) since you got them, it's time to do a review. Your circumstances may have changed, and new plans or deductions may have come out since you first signed up. Call up customer service (or your agent) and have them walk you through your options if you're having trouble comparing things on your own.
One of the biggest budget sucks is our own forgetfulness. We miss payments and incur late fees because we've misplaced our statement or didn't manage to get our mail out in time. We fail to save as much as we'd like because we just never remember to do it.

The easiest way to save yourself some money (and hassle and stress) is to set it and forget it. Sign up for auto-pay so your monthly bills are automatically deducted from your checking account. Have a certain amount automatically transferred each month from your checking to your savings account. Remove the human error factor, and your budget will be better for it.
We charge so much nowadays -- whether on credit cards or debit cards -- that it's easy to spend a lot of money without really registering it. When you have a set amount of bills in your wallet, however, it's extremely easy to see how much you've spent so far this month and how much is left.

Take those budget categories of yours -- groceries, entertainment, etc. -- and turn them into real, physical envelopes. At the beginning of each month, put that month's allotment of cash into each envelope. When you're running low, you'll know you need to be careful with your purchases. When you're out, you're done spending on that category till next month.
If you're prone to impulse purchases, imposing a waiting period on yourself is an easy way to break the cycle.

For large purchases, a 30-day waiting list is best. Write down the item that's calling to you, then wait 30 days before allowing yourself to buy it. You may realize in that time that you don't need it after all. Or you may forget why it called to you in the first place.

For smaller impulse buys, like that fancy new product you spotted in the grocery aisle, follow a 10-second rule. Before the item can go into your cart, spend 10 full seconds asking yourself if you really need it and how you will use it. Simply analyzing why you're getting something can disrupt the siren call of a product.
It's all too easy to blow $5, $10, even $20 on something, whether it's an extra meal out or a coffee on the run. In the grand scheme of things, it "doesn't seem like much" to us. But if you start thinking of your money in terms of the time it took you to earn that money, suddenly you find yourself evaluating your spending choices a little closer.

Figure out what you make per hour if you're salaried (if you're hourly, this will be easy). Let's say you make $15 per hour. For every $15 you spend, you'll have to spend another hour of your time at work to pay for that item. A coffee a day for a week can cost you an hour or two. And bigger items, like that flat screen TV you're eyeing? You get the drift. Framing purchases in light of time spent can help you make sure something is worth it.
In the end, a budget is simply a means of making sure your money is working for you. It allows you to see how much you're brining in and allocate it towards the things that are most important to you. If you can hold those bigger goals in mind, everyday budgeting becomes easier.

If you're wondering whether or not to buy something, ask yourself if that money would be better spent towards your big goal. Put a visual reminder in your wallet to keep you on task-like a photo of a sandy beach if you're trying to save up money for a trip. Viewing your budget in terms of what it will allow you accomplish-not the things it won't allow you to buy, can revolutionize your spending.
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