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Weekly Jobless Claims; Ford and 3M Report; Amazon and Microsoft on Deck

Hot Stock Minute

Ford (F) is on a roll. The company cruised past estimates this morning when it released quarterly results. Earnings were 45-cents a share when expectations were for 38-cents. Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Mike Santoli has more int he video above. He also looks at Dow component 3M (MMM) and Southwest Airlines (LUV) which have also released their quarterly earnings.

Now breaking news: Weekly jobless claims have come in considerably higher than expected. The Labor Department says there were 350,000 claims filed last week. Estimates were for 335,000 claims. This week's figure is a drop of 12,000 from last week's number which was revised up 4,000 claims to 362,000.

Another day, another nightmare for JPMorgan's (JPM) legal department. This time the bank could pay for its ties to Bernie Madoff. The New York Times says the Feds suspect JPM of turning a blind eye to Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors are said to be mounting a criminal investigation. But the paper says the bank has been in talks to pay a fine before charges are filed. JPMorgan stock is up 5% over the past month as it has faced a barrage of federal investigations and lawsuits.

Wal-Mart (WMT) is pushing further into China. The world's largest retailer announced today that it plans to open 110-stores around the country through 2016. The move comes as a bit of surprise since Wal-Mart is currently shuttering many of its Chinese locations. Wal-Mart stock goes into today's trading session up 10-percent year-to-date.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Amazon (AMZN) reports earnings after the closing bell. Analysts are looking for losses of 9-cents a share. which would be a marked improvement from a year ago when losses where 60-cents. Sales likely climbed almost $3-billion to $16.76-billion. Earnings for the period in review may be less important than the outlook for the holiday shopping season. Amazon has just revised its pricing policy for shipping. Despite Amazon's ongoing losses, shares are up 27% so far this year.

Microsoft (MSFT) also reports after today's close. Microsoft is expected to post earnings of 54-cents a share, a penny better than last year on sales that have risen almost $2-billion. Microsoft's future remains a bit uncertain. We know CEO Steve Ballmer will be departing soon, but a replacement has yet to be named. Also key are sales of the company's Surface tablet. Shares of Microsoft are up 22% year-to-date.

Several NASDAQ-listed companies have been dropping on lowered outlooks which were issued along with earnings. Up top, Symantec (SYMC) which has been down double-digits. We've also got Angie's List (ANGI) which has been down more than 7% and Akamai Technologies (AKAM) is also down about 7%. Looking at the reports: Symantec beat on earnings with 50-cents a share, but it fell short on revenues. As for Angie's List, sales were in line with estimates at $66-million, but losses were wider than expected. Of note, Angie's List recently lowered its membership fees in several key cities. The move is said to be part of a test program. Moving on to Akamai, it had a solid beat with earnings of 50-cents a share excluding items when forecasts were for 46-cents.

Finally, we want to end on some stocks surging on their reports: Citrix (CTXS) has been up more than 5%. As of yesterday's close the stock had been down 17% this year. But the company nudged past estimates for the quarter making 70-cents a share on $713-milion. We've also got the Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) which has been up 5%. This adds to prior gains of 30% so far in 2013. The restaurant chain matched on earnings of 52-cents a share with a slight beat on revenues.

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