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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) posted its third straight day of solid gains today, moving up 114 points, or 0.87%, to finish at 13,204. After bad news out of Europe battered the market on Monday, the blue chips are now within striking distance -- just 127 points away -- of their 52-week high.
Pending-home sales came in way ahead of expectations, indicating that the housing market may be finally showing signs of life. Sales jumped 4.1%, while only a 0.5% increase was expected. An improving labor market and low mortgage probably helped push sales, and the good news drove all but six Dow stocks higher for the day.
Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) paced the Dow bulls, moving up 2.8%. The retail giant had dropped as much as 8% earlier in the week after The New York Times revealed a widespread bribery campaign at its subsidiary in Mexico. Investors seemed to believe shares were oversold and bid them back up today. Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) also gained more than 2% after raising its dividend by 11% yesterday. The energy giant reports earnings tomorrow before markets open, and analysts are expecting EPS of $3.26.
On the other side of the ledger, Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM ) was the biggest Dow loser today, down almost 1% after it missed earnings, the first blue chip to do this season. Net income dropped 11% on lower production, and its $2 EPS was $0.07 short of analyst projections. Revenue climbed nearly 9% to $124 billion but still missed estimates.
Finally, a strong after-hours earnings beat by Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) today could lead stocks higher out of the gate Friday, especially the Nasdaq. The Internet retailer jumped 15% in after-hours trading as revenues and profits came in ahead of expectations, and management assuaged investors by holding the line on narrowing net margins, which came in at 1.45%. GDP numbers for the first quarter also come out tomorrow morning, which should affect markets as well.
Keep it going
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