Stocks rallied nicely early in the day, but turned downward in the afternoon on news that the German Bundesbank rejected the OMT bond purchasing program out of risk concerns.
The morning joy came on some better-than-expected data as Initial Jobless Claims for last week came in at 339K beating expectations of 355K. Continuing claims were also better-than-expected at 3,000K.
In stock news, semiconductor play Qualcomm (QCOM) fell sharply following yesterday afternoon's disappointing earnings report, while widely-watched storage stock Fusion-io (FIO) spiked on impressive guidance. But overall, earnings season has continued to shape up as mixed at best with misses today from the likes of 3M (MMM) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY).
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After the close, Amazon (AMZN) reported its first-quarter numbers, beating expectations on the earnings line but missing slightly on revenues. Guidance was also a big light relative to expectations, but the stock nonetheless rallied in extended trading.
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Overall though, even with the afternoon slump, there were some bright spots. For example, small cap stocks outperformed by a wide margin, and we saw rebounds in oil and precious metals, with silver being a particularly strong performer. Financials were also up pretty solidly, and housing stocks were extremely strong, even in the face of fairly weak economic data as of late. Apple (AAPL) was also up as traders slowly embrace the former market leader following Tuesday's mixed earnings report.
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On Friday at 8:30 a.m. EDT, we'll see the advance GDP report for Q1, with the April University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report following at 9:55 a.m. In earnings, the calendar is pretty stacked for tomorrow morning. Key names reporting include Chevron (CVX), Tyco (TYC), Goodyear Tire (GT), and LyondellBasell (LYB).
On the plus side, expectations seem fairly low, and thus far investors have been forgiving of companies meeting earnings expectations through cost cuts instead of strong demand. However, tension on the tape seems quite high, so volatility is likely par for the course in the near term, especially if concerns over Europe return to the forefront of investor thinking.