Why the Dow's Seesawing This Morning

Again, the stock market is playing tricks on investors who aren't paying attention every minute of the trading day. Mixed housing data that showed a rise in housing starts but a drop in building permits didn't provide any clear direction, and after opening lower, stocks bounced back. Still, the real action may not come until this afternoon, when the Fed releases its Beige Book survey, discussing conditions for businesses throughout 12 U.S. regions. At around 10:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI  ) were up 33 points after being down as much as 50 points near the open.

The Dow got more earnings news, with Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) reporting and rising 2.5% following a mixed report. The semiconductor giant beat estimates for the second quarter but issued warnings for the third quarter and the full 2012 year. Citing a "more challenging macroeconomic environment," the company now expects slower revenue growth than it previously did. But investors seem relieved that the news wasn't worse, especially after rival AMD's (NYSE: AMD  ) revenue warning earlier this month.

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , however, was down more than 2% after releasing its quarterly report this morning. The bank reversed a year-ago loss by posting a profit of $2.46 billion. Yet a drop in overall loans supports the notion that the banking industry in general isn't lending as much as some policymakers would like. As the company scales back on its loss-producing mortgage business, the question remains where the bank will look for further growth.

Finally, American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) is down about half a percent. The financial company will report after the bell today, and analysts expect a small rise in earnings per share. With AmEx having beaten estimates five quarters in a row, investors will be hoping for the financial giant to extend that streak. Given improving credit conditions and the company's many initiatives to try to boost its presence in the industry, AmEx stands a reasonable chance of giving investors what they want.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Bank of America and has created a bear call spread position in American Express. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel and writing a covered strangle position on American Express. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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