The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rang up its first record high of this year Wednesday. First quarter GDP growth was negligible, but a report on private sector job growth showed strong gains. And the Federal Reserve did what it was expected to do -- continue to incrementally taper its bond-buying economic stimulus program.
The Dow gained 45 points, to end above 16,580 for the first time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 5, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 11 points.
Twitter (TWTR) and eBay (EBAY) stole the spotlight after both reported disappointing quarterly results.
Twitter tumbled 9 percent as investors focused on user growth numbers that failed to excite. Twitter has lost 14 percent of its value from the closing price on its first day of trading last November. Its shares briefly topped $70, but ended Wednesday below $40.
EBay fell 5 percent. It posted a quarterly loss, but that wasn't the bad news. The company said it will take a $3 billion tax hit in order to repatriate most of the cash it holds overseas.
Also down on earnings news:
Panera Bread (PNRA) lost 6 percent on a disappointing outlook;
Seagate Technology (STX) fell 2 percent after missing Street estimates;
And VistaPrint (VPRT), which provides products to small businesses, tumbled 26 percent.
On the upside:
Time Warner (TWX) rose nearly 3 percent led by strong showings for the big screen and the small screen. Its movies and HBO units both did well;
And health insurance provider WellPoint (WLP) gained 5½ percent as net topped expectations.
Elsewhere, Energizer (ENR) rallied 14 percent. It plans to split into two publicly traded companies.
The utility Pepco (POM) powered ahead by 17 percent after agreeing to be acquired by Exelon (EXC), which fell 3 percent.
PokerTek (PTEK) drew a full house, jumping 35 percent as it agreed to be acquired.
But a Chinese media firm, Lihua International (LIWA), lost half its value on allegations of securities fraud. It has reportedly ceased most of its operations this year.
What to Watch Thursday:
Automakers report April new car sales.
The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, and the Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for March, both 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
At 10 a.m.: the Institute for Supply Management releases its manufacturing index for April; Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates at 10 a.m.; and Commerce Department releases construction spending for March.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
After Market: Dow Breaks Through to First Record High of 2014
"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.