Buoyed by a strong rise in consumer and technology stocks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) rose today on stronger-than-expected consumer spending.
|Dow Jones Industrial Average
|S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC )
The market had risen every day this week, and that positive sentiment carried the day for a full-week gain of 1.53%. Today's rise was somewhat of a surprise, though, given that the Commerce Department reported just a 2.2% annual GDP growth rate for the first quarter, down from 3% last quarter. Economists had been expecting 2.7%, but GDP was ultimately held back by a drop in business spending, That stronger-than-expected consumer growth made up for some, but not all, of the decline.
The news of strong consumer spending, coupled with better-than-expected earnings from consumer stocks Amazon.com and Expedia, helped drive the market higher. Among the Dow stocks, Merck, Chevron, and Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) all reported earnings. Besides Procter & Gamble, which I'll get to in a moment, the stocks barely moved in reaction to their earnings, with Merck and Chevron down $0.01 and $0.02 per share, respectively.
Procter & Gamble was today's worst Dow stock, down 3.63% to $64.44. P&G reported earnings per share of $0.82, significantly worse than the $0.93 analysts had been expecting. The company aims to combat rising costs by cutting 6,000 jobs and $10 billion in expenses over the coming years. But even though the market soured on Procter & Gamble today, Fool analyst John Maxfield chose P&G when asked which stock he would choose if he could pick only one. It's hard to beat a 100-plus-year dividend history.
Foolish bottom line
Amazon's earnings helped move the Dow today, but there are plenty of other companies out there that investors need to watch during this earnings season. Get a free report from The Motley Fool on 5 Stocks Investors Need to Watch This Earning Season, where you'll find information on this quarter's possible big performers. It's completely free for our readers, so access your free report today.