There's been very little that investors could be certain about so far this year, except for this: Tuesday's are usually winners. While the market has bounced back and forth, the S&P 500 has posted gains on 14 of the 16 Tuesdays this year. The index is up about 9 percent on Tuesdays, and down about 9 percent on all of the other days.
This Tuesday was no exception: The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 86 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 9, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained 29 points.
The focus today was on earnings, but that could switch on Wednesday to the economy, when the Federal Reserve wraps up its two-day policy meeting and we get a look a first-quarter GDP.
Let's start with the earnings winners:
Merck (MRK) gained 3½ percent as it beat expectations. It's been one of the Dow's best performing stocks over the past six months, up 28 percent.
BP (BP) rose 2½ percent even though its net fell, but it did boost its dividend. Sprint (S) jumped 11 percent. Its loss narrowed from a year ago.
Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) poured on the hot sauce, gaining 5 percent, after raising its outlook. Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) rose 3 percent as it plans to raise menu prices. And Twitter (TWTR) rose 4½ percent ahead of its results.
Of course, there were some earnings disappointments too.
Goodyear Tire (GT) fell 7½ percent after coming in short of expectations. Coach (COH) tumbled 9 percent after the maker of bags and accessories posted weak sales. And the 3D printing firm 3D Systems (DDD) fell 9 percent on disappointing earnings guidance for the year.
Elsewhere, GoGo (GOGO) went – straight down. The provider of in-flight internet service tumbled 28 percent on word that AT&T will enter the business next year. GoGo shares have lost more than a third of their value in past three months.
But the biotech firm Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD) jumped 21 percent on positive test results for its treatment of a disease that allows fat to build up in human cells.
Internet and social network stocks rebounded. Facebook (FB) gained 3½ percent and Google (GOOG) added 2 percent.
What to Watch Wednesday:
Payroll processor ADP releases its survey of private-sector hiring for April.
The Commerce Department reports first-quarter gross domestic product, and the Labor Department releases its first-quarter employment cost index, both at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
Federal Reserve policymakers conclude their two-day meeting to set interest rates at 2 p.m.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
"Your daily habits and routines are the reason you got into this mess," writes Trent Hamm, founder of TheSimpleDollar.com. "Spend some time thinking about how you spend money each day, each week and each month." Do you really need your daily latte? Can you bring your lunch to work instead of buying it four times a week? Ask yourself: What can I change without sacrificing my lifestyle too much?
Remove all credit cards from your wallet and leave them at home when you go shopping, advises WiseBread contributor Sabah Karimi. “Even if you earn cash back or other rewards with credit card purchases, stop spending with your credit cards until you have your finances under control,” she writes.
If you do a lot of online shopping at one retailer, you may have stored your credit card information on the site to make the checkout process easier. But that also makes it easier to charge items you don't need. So clear that information. "If you’re paying for a recurring service, use a debit card issued from a major credit card service linked to your checking account," Hamm writes.
Reward yourself when you reach debt payoff goals. "The only way to completely pay off your credit card debt is to keep at it, and to do that, you must keep yourself motivated," Bakke writes. Just make sure to reward yourself within reason. For example, instead of a weeklong vacation, plan a weekend camping trip. "If you aim to reduce your credit card debt from $10,000 to $5,000 in two months," Bakke writes, "give yourself more than a pat on the back."
“Establish a budget,” writes Money Crashers contributor David Bakke. “If you don't scale back your spending, you'll dig yourself into a deeper hole." You can use personal finance tools like Mint.com, or make your own Excel spreadsheet that includes your monthly income and expenses. Then scrutinize those budget categories to see where you can cut costs.
Sort your credit card interest rates from highest to lowest, then tackle the card with the highest rate first. "By paying off the balance with the highest interest first, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards," writes Mint.com spokeswoman Hitha Prabhakar.
To make a dent in your debt, you need to pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card statements each month. "Paying the minimum -– usually 2 to 3 percent of the outstanding balance -– only prolongs a debt payoff strategy," Prabhakar writes. "Strengthen your commitment to pay everything off by making weekly, instead of monthly, payments." Or if your minimum payment is $100, try doubling it and paying off $200 or more.
If you have a high-interest card with a balance that you’re confident you can pay off in a few months, Hamm recommends moving the debt to a card that offers a zero-interest balance transfer. "You’ll need to pay off the debt before the balance transfer expires, or else you’re often hit with a much higher interest rate," he warns. "If you do it carefully, you can save hundreds on interest this way."
Have any birthday gifts or old wedding presents collecting dust in your closet? Look for items you can sell on eBay or Craigslist. "Do some research to make sure you list these items at a fair and reasonable price," Karimi writes. “Take quality photos, and write an attention-grabbing headline and description to sell the item as quickly as possible." Any profits from sales should go toward your debt.
If you receive a job bonus around the holidays or during the year, allocate that money toward your debt payoff plan. "Avoid the temptation to spend that bonus on a vacation or other luxury purchase," Karimi writes. It’s more important to fix your financial situation than own the latest designer bag.