Markets Move Higher as Earnings Season Ends

With more than 90% of the S&P 500 companies having already reported earnings, and 67% of those companies having beaten estimates, we can almost certainly mark this season down as a win. And as analysts, traders, and even fortune tellers argue about why the markets keep going higher, for some investors the answer is simply that when profits rise, stocks rise.

And for the most part, stocks rose higher again today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 60 points, or 0.4%, while the S&P 500 rose by 0.51% and the Nasdaq climbed higher by 0.26%. But even on a winning day, we can still usually find a few losers mixed into the bunch. This morning, I highlighted a few reasons why Chevron, Caterpillar, and Alcoa were all moving lower, which you can read about by clicking here, or continue below for the remainder of today's Dow losers.

Shares of Hewlett-Packard led all Dow losers as shares fell 2.56%. The decline was likely caused by a report by research firm Gartner that reviewed the PC market in Western Europe. Gartner said PC sales fell 20.5% during the first quarter compared to the same time period last year. While Acer realized the largest decline of 36.8%, Hewlett-Packard is still the leading PC company in the area with 19.7% market share, although its sales also dropped 32% compared to last year.

Cisco fell 0.28% during regular trading hours as investors nervously awaited its quarterly earnings report after the bell. Analysts had estimated revenue of $12.18 billion and earnings per share to hit $0.49. But the company posted better-than-expected results, with revenue of $12.22 billion and earnings of $0.51 per share. Cisco posted a 14.5% increase to profits in its first-quarter results last year and while investors had worried about results earlier in the day, they were thrilled with what they saw. Shares were higher by 8.68%, or $1.84, to $23.05 in the after-hours session.

UnitedHealth dropped 0.19% despite yesterday's Congressional Budget Office report that stated U.S.-funded Medicare plans may rise 50% over the next decade. Previous reports indicated that they would fall in the coming years. The Medicare Advantage plan for older and disabled Americans will likely increase to 21 million participants by 2023, from the 14 million it current has enrolled. At this time, UnitedHealth receives about 25% of its revenue from Advantage programs, so this boost to membership would likely dramatically help profits.

Shares of Travelers also fell into the red today, closing lower by 0.14%.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems and UnitedHealth Group. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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