It was a surprisingly low-volatility day considering the amount of news that came out today.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 16,501.6 (0.0, 0.0%)
- S&P 500: 1,878.6 (+3.2, +0.1%)
- Nasdaq: 4,148.3, (+21.3, +0.5%)
And now the top stories:
- Two big economic bellwethers announced their Q1 financial results. Caterpillar announced earnings that beat expectations and management raised earnings guidance. "We anticipate global economic growth in 2014 of about 3 percent, up from about 2 percent in 2013," they said. "Economic indicators that signaled improvement in global economic conditions during the last half of 2013 continued to indicate improvement during the first quarter of 2014. Interest rates are at record lows in many countries, and low inflation coupled with elevated unemployment should cause most central banks to keep interest rates low throughout 2014."
- UPS announced that its earnings fell to $0.98 per share, which was weaker than the $1.08 expected by analysts. However, management very explicitly blamed the weakness on the weather. "Unusually harsh weather weighed on operating profit by approximately $200 million, due to increased expenses and slower revenue growth," said management. Its worth noting that U.S. domestic daily volume increased by 4.2% and international daily volume jumped by 7.9%. “During the quarter, the momentum of the underlying business was masked by the disruption of inclement weather,” said CFO Kurt Kuehn.
- Wednesday afternoon, Apple announced better-than-expected earnings, boosted its dividend, and increased its share buyback authorization. It also announced a 7-to-1 stock split. The stock closed up 8%.
- Initial weekly jobless claims jumped to 329,000 from 305,000 a week ago. This was a bit higher than the 315,000 expected. However, economists warn that it was a noisy week for data. "[S]ome of the rise is probably a Good Friday effect; claims have tended to be biased up in the week of Good Friday and surrounding weeks—with some payback late," said UBS's Kevin Cummins."
- On a much more positive note, durable goods orders jumped 2.6%, beating expectations for a 2.0% increase. Nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft jumped 2.2%, which was much stronger than the 1.5% expected. "Strong report and quite encouraging to see capex picking up sharply coming out of Q1, adding to expectations for a strong rebound in Q2 growth and supporting an outlook for a better growth trajectory moving into the second half once we get through weather volatility," said Morgan Stanley's Ted Wieseman.
- Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Starbucks announce earnings after the closing bell. Follow the releases live at BusinessInsider.com.
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