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Earnings Fuel Stocks Higher Despite Brief Hack Plunge

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks resumed a move higher today after a fake tweet briefly rattled the markets. Hackers broke into the Associated Press twitter feed and erroneously reported a terror attack on the White House. The Dow momentarily plunged 145 points into negative territory before the AP sent out notification that the account was compromised. This all occurred in a matter of four minutes.

All major indexes closed 1% higher for the day lifted higher by a flurry of earnings beats. A report on new home sales also seemed to give investors encouragement. The Commerce Department says new home sales rose 1.5% in March to an adjusted annual rate of 417,000. Despite the rise, the tally came in below analyst estimates of 420,000.

Netflix (NFLX) took flight today rising 25% on its earnings released after yesterday's closing bell. It posted profits of 31-cents a share, topping estimates of 18-cents, and revenues were right in line with expectations. Netflix is largely crediting "House of Cards" for the beat. The show was the company's biggest foray so far into original programming. Some other highlights of the report: Netflix now has 29.2 million paid subscribers. That's even slightly more than perennial powerhouse HBO. In addition, Netflix will soon offer an option that allows four streams at once aimed at large families. With today's gains, the stock price has more than doubled this year, and is at its highest level since September 2011.

Three Dow components reported before this morning's opening bell. Dupont (DD) rose 4% and Travelers (TRV) rose more than 2% after beating estimates. However, United Technologies (UTX) fell even as it beat earnings estimates due to lower than expected revenue.

As for Dupont, it posted earnings of $1.56 per share, beating estimates by 4-cents although revenue was right in line with expectations. The company says profits were bolstered by improving sales of seeds and agriculture chemicals.

Travelers posted profits of $2.33 per share, up 11% from a year ago and compared with estimates of $2.02. Revenue, however, was lower than the consensus. The insurance giant also said it will boost its quarterly dividend to 50-cents a share up from 4-cents.

Meanwhile an earnings beat on lower-than-expected revenue hurt shares of United Technologies. The stock dipped nearly 1% on its quarterly report. The filing showed profits of $1.39 a share, besting the consensus by a dime, but revenues were about $500 million below estimates.

Shares of airline stocks were flying high today. Delta (DAL) soared 10% after disclosing profits of 10-cents a share, beating estimates of 6-cents. Revenue was $8.5-billion, in line with estimates. US Airways (LCC) ascended 5% even though the company revealed that profits had dropped to 26-cents a share down from 28-cents one year ago. Excluding items stemming from the company's planned merger with American Airlines' parent company, profits would have been higher.