The Dow Creeps Higher


After spending most of the trading day bobbing and weaving near yesterday's close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) finished the session up 26 points, or 0.2%, as earnings reports and macroeconomic news continued to send mixed messages.

In macroeconomic news, September durable goods orders shot up by 9.9%, slightly ahead of expectations, though most of this gain was due to a swing in orders at Boeing (NYS: BA) after a lull in August. Factoring out the transportation sector, new orders for durable goods rose just 2%. Initial unemployment claims of 369,000 were slightly better than expectations of 375,000, perhaps indicating that the job market is continuing to improve. A day after new home sales hit a two-and-a-half year high, pending home sales disappointed. That figure rose just 0.3%, well under analyst predictions of 2.4%.

Procter & Gamble (NYS: PG) was the only Dow component to report earnings today, and a solid beat helped send shares up 2.9%. Net income at the household products giant actually fell 7%, in part, from negative currency translation. But adjusted EPS of $1.06 climbed $0.03 from a year ago, and topped analyst expectations of $0.96. Revenue dropped 4% to $20.74 billion, but would have increased 2% in constant dollars. Cost-cutting measures appear to be taking shape, as the company has launched an initiative to axe $10 billion in expenses, and P&G showed some much-desired market share gains, saying share grew in segments representing 45 percent of its revenue in the quarter.

Boeing was the Dow's biggest loser, falling 1.6%, despite posting strong earnings yesterday. One of its suppliers, Spirit AeroSystems, took an unexpected charge, partly on goods it makes for Boeing, and the aerospace giant also announced an acquisition of software company Miro Technologies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Outside the Dow, two other heavyweights delivered underwhelming earnings. Apple (NAS: AAPL) missed EPS estimates, despite growing net income by 24%, and beating on revenue. Sales of iPads slowed down, increasing just 24%, to 14 million, while iPhone sales came in at 26.9 million, ahead of expectations. Guidance for the current quarter was also less than Wall Street had projected, and shares initially dipped in after-hours trading before bouncing back to end flat. (NAS: AMZN) shares, meanwhile, fell 1% after hours, as the e-retailer posted its first net loss in nearly 10 years. Revenue grew 27%, to $13.8 billion, and was slower in Europe than North America. The company posted a $0.60 EPS loss due to continuing investments and, in part, on an impairment charge related to Living Social, the daily deals site it invested in. Guidance was also lower than analysts had expected.

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