Stocks managed to end in positive territory, but just barely, on a Friday filled with mixed earnings news.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) added just 3.22 points, or 0.02 percent, to end at 15,558.83, while the Standard & Poor's 500 (^GSPC) edged up 1.40 points, or 0.08 percent, to 1,691.65. The Nasdaq Composite index (^IXIC) rose 7.98 points, or 0.22 percent, to close at 3,613.16.
Amazon (AMZN) rose 2.84 percent, despite reporting a surprise quarterly loss after the market close on Thursday. Wall Street had expected a profit of five cents per share but got a loss of two cents per share instead. Revenue was hurt by warehouse expansions and spending on video streaming, but the $15.70 billion figure was at least close to estimates. Amazon gained $8.61 to $312.01.
Among big losers, Expedia (EXPE) plunged 27.4 percent, the worst fall in the S&P 500. The online travel site Thursday reported earnings that badly missed analyst expectations; higher costs were the main culprit. Shares of Expedia lost $17.80 to $47.20.
Before markets opened, Newmont Mining (NEM) reported a quarterly loss, largely a result of slumping prices for copper and gold. Analysts had predicted a slight profit. Newmont's stock still rose 40 cents, or 1.34 percent, to $30.33.
Starbucks (SBUX) posted results late Thursday that beat analyst estimates. Lower costs for coffee beans and better sales of salads and sandwiches helped. Starbucks jumped $5.17, or 7.6 percent, to $73.34.
In economic news, consumers are feeling more upbeat about the economy than they have in six years, according to data from the University of Michigan. The latest survey of overall consumer sentiment in July climbed to 85.1 from 84.1 in June, topping expectations.
More Stocks in the News:
Zynga (ZNGA) investors cashed in their shares after the maker of FarmVille and other online games said it was dropping its plans to pursue online casino-style games in the U.S. Shares lost 49 cents, or 13.9 percent, to $3.02. On Thursday, the San Francisco company said in its second-quarter earnings report that it had trimmed its losses.
Shares of Verisign (VRSN) rose $1.36, or 2.96 percent, to $47.29 after the Web domain-name registration company posted better-than-expected results for its second quarter and raised its revenue outlook. Verisign said it benefited from increased demand during the period and now expects annual revenue of as much as $92 million this year.
Tyco International's (TYC) adjusted net income topped Wall Street expectations, the first third-quarter financial report since it split into three entities last year. The Swiss security and fire-detection systems company reported adjusted net income of 50 cents a share, topping analyst forecasts of 48 cents a share, according to FactSet. Its stock lost 57 cents, or 1.61 percent, to $34.59.
Federal air safety regulators are seeking more than $2.7 million in fines from Boeing (BA) for quality control lapses in parts used in the 777 aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration says in a statement Friday that Boeing discovered nearly five years ago it had been installing fasteners on the airplanes that didn't meet FAA safety standards. Boeing vowed to fix the problem but repeatedly missed deadlines to do so, the agency said. Boeing ended Friday's trading down $1.12, or 1.05 percent, to $105.58.
Shares of Halliburton (HAL) rose after the energy company agreed to settle a federal investigation into allegations it destroyed evidence connected to the 2010 Gulf oil spill and said it will buy back more than $3 billion in stock. Shares rose $1.65, or 3.72 percent, to $45.99.
Lumber company Weyerhaeuser (WY) said that its second-quarter net income more than doubled as it benefited from an improving housing market. But the stock fell 34 cents, or 1.17 percent, to $28.80, after it predicted a smaller third-quarter profit in its biggest segment, wood products, because of rising expenses and lower selling prices for some products.
What to Watch Monday:
The National Association of Realtors releases its pending home sales index for June at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
These companies are scheduled to report quarterly corporate earnings:
So you're seeing a lot of strength in housing, and it's coming from almost every place geographically ... So that's sort of the big winner. Auto and that whole complex is a big winner. They're doing over 15 million cars this year, up from 8.5 at the bottom. And then you have the energy complex, which is really, really a revolution. This is hard to underestimate the impact of energy and all the natural gas that's being produced and all the subsidiary types of things that come from that activity. And if you add on top of that, technology which is still a very big pocket of strength and quite robust in the United States, you've got some really good stuff happening.
On the other hand we do have the U.S. government at work, trying to decrease growth as rapidly as they can. And so they've, unfortunately, had some success in that area, and that leaves us somewhere in the 2%-plus area.
We think that the next big risk in the industry is rising interest rates. And so we're very focused on what happens when interest rates return to a more historically normal level.
On the positive side, economic fundamentals in the United States continue to improve. The main impediment to growth appears to be the speed and nature of the withdrawal of fiscal stimulus. Debate has actually now opened up on how and when to withdraw some of the monetary expansion. All of this is very good news.
At the same time, the rest of the world looks no stronger. Europe is mired in a recession, Asian growth seems more modest and Japanese attempts to restimulate their economy through monetary stimulation have set off further downward pressure on interest rates and currency values.
The overriding driver of recovery in the housing market remains the underproduction of both single and multifamily product throughout the economic downturn and up to and including this year. Over the past 5 years of housing production, we've built an average of under 700,000 single and multifamily homes total per year, with an average obsolescence rate of approximately 300,000 per year. This compares to a need for new dwelling units per year of between 1.2 million and 1.5 million.
This year, a significantly stronger year of building activity, we will produce approximately 950,000 single and multifamily dwellings, and again, will underserve the country's needs. We have more than absorbed the overbuilding of the early to mid-2000s, and have been underproducing for a protracted period of time. This shortfall will have to be made up, and the builders of both multi and single-family products have been pushing to increase production.
I think when you look at some of the economic indicators, housing starts are up, prices are up on housing. I think housing is a really important measure for us because we have a lot of jobs around that. A lot of contracting roofers, et cetera, around that. All of that is positive. And so we're feeling like we're coming off the end of the year with some momentum, and that will certainly help us.
I think there's reason to be very optimistic when you consider that demographic tailwind that will continue over the next 5 to 10 years, certainly. And then when you think about just the economy itself and you look at the strength of the balance sheets of consumers and corporations, the amount of liquidity out there, combined with the depth of the housing correction, I think there's a good argument we made that the housing cycle we're in right now will be strongest of the last 3 that we've seen.
Although we have seen recent improvements in the U.S. economy, growth is relatively light and confidence remains fragile. In addition, while the market generally feels better about the tail risk in Europe, the economy is challenged.
Given the continued uncertainty in the market, we are not managing the firm with the hope that the macro backdrop will improve. We are focused on managing through a continued difficult operating environment.
We continue to be very concerned about the prospects for the financial markets and the economies of North America and Western Europe, accentuated by potential weakness in China. There continues to be a big disconnect between the financial markets and the underlying economic fundamentals.
Markets are firming. If the economy continues to expand like it is, I think you'll see the banks loosen up. And if sort of rates go up a little bit but underwriting loosens up a bit, I think you'll see similar demand, if not more. That's why we're not troubled by a little uptick in interest rates right now.
The situation in Europe is not even slightly better. It's probably slightly worse. Even if we do not have a Greece event, if you will, the environment is moving from an economic standpoint to recession. And so the mood with our clients over there is still to be thoughtful and to be very mindful about the way they invest. And when clients are thoughtful and mindful, they tend to wait a little bit more and to think further on when and how much they're going to invest.
"I think the whole thing about the 2% extra payroll tax wasn't helpful. Don't forget, in America, the average household makes $50,000. 2% is $1,000 a year. I mean, after tax, that's a hurt in their pocketbook. Gas prices have been going up. I -- and you've seen the retailer results, the Walmarts, Kmarts, Targets, Costcos of the world had, had results less than they expected, not very good. So it's weak. I don't think it's -- I'm not ready to declare it's a permanent decline or a second dip on the recession there, but it's a little nervous as far as what's going on up there."
We're really proud now that the [government budget] deficit could only be $600 billion in the year, and while that's encouraging, it doesn't do anything to fix the long-term problem, and the long-term problem is entitlements. If you take a look at the Medicare and Medicaid in particular and some on Social Security that while debt as a percent of GDP is we'll say around 75% today and under the new estimate grows to 83% by the end of the decade ... You take those same numbers, go up to the next decade and it goes to 135% debt as a percentage of GDP largely driven by the baby boomer generation retiring which no politician, Republican or Democrat, really wants to talk about. They're more than willing to say we got to reform entitlements but as soon as you say well, like what, that's when they all start to back off because they don't want to anger the voters.
I think there's a lot of concern about central banks not just in the U.S., China elsewhere, and maybe they stretched themselves out, and they played this maybe game, you want to call it for quite a while and maybe they are getting a brick wall, and the days of easy and free money may be coming to an end or at least maybe tapering off. But it probably wouldn't be good [for the global economy in the short-term], maybe good for long-term because then it would be more based upon fundamentals rather than speed injections.