The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) posted its third straight day of solid gains today, moving up 114 points, or 0.87%, to finish at 13,204. After bad news out of Europe battered the market on Monday, the blue chips are now within striking distance -- just 127 points away -- of their 52-week high.
Pending-home sales came in way ahead of expectations, indicating that the housing market may be finally showing signs of life. Sales jumped 4.1%, while only a 0.5% increase was expected. An improving labor market and low mortgage probably helped push sales, and the good news drove all but six Dow stocks higher for the day.
Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) paced the Dow bulls, moving up 2.8%. The retail giant had dropped as much as 8% earlier in the week after The New York Times revealed a widespread bribery campaign at its subsidiary in Mexico. Investors seemed to believe shares were oversold and bid them back up today. Chevron (NYS: CVX) also gained more than 2% after raising its dividend by 11% yesterday. The energy giant reports earnings tomorrow before markets open, and analysts are expecting EPS of $3.26.
On the other side of the ledger, Exxon Mobil (NYS: XOM) was the biggest Dow loser today, down almost 1% after it missed earnings, the first blue chip to do this season. Net income dropped 11% on lower production, and its $2 EPS was $0.07 short of analyst projections. Revenue climbed nearly 9% to $124 billion but still missed estimates.
Finally, a strong after-hours earnings beat by Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) today could lead stocks higher out of the gate Friday, especially the Nasdaq. The Internet retailer jumped 15% in after-hours trading as revenues and profits came in ahead of expectations, and management assuaged investors by holding the line on narrowing net margins, which came in at 1.45%. GDP numbers for the first quarter also come out tomorrow morning, which should affect markets as well.
Keep it going
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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorJeremy Bowmanholds no positions in the companies in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Exxon Mobil, Amazon.com, Chevron, and Wal-Mart Stores and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
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