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Markets soared this morning as the stars aligned to produce positive news regarding Europe, the American recovery, and corporate earnings season. European Central Bank head Mario Draghi stole the show, as his pledge to "do whatever it takes to preserve the euro" hinted at further stimulus or quantitative easing from the bank. European pessimism had sent markets spiraling the previous few days, so today's announcement was a welcome turn of events for investors. At 12:15 p.m., the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) had risen 1.3% while the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) leapt 1.2%.
In domestic news, positive jobs numbers contributed to the market euphoria. The Labor Department reported initial jobless claims fell 35,000 to 353,000, while economists had predicted only a slight decline to 380,000 jobless claims. However, hiring is always volatile this time of year due to temporary shutdowns in automobile plants, so "the latest improvement should probably be partly discounted," according to Goldman Sachs economists. Another positive sign for the domestic economy was an increase in durable goods orders. While analysts only expected a 0.3% gain, durable goods orders increased 1.6%, a second indication of a possible market turnaround.
Earnings season was the third factor motivating the Dow's rise. 3M (NYSE: MMM ) , ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) , and United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) reported today. Conglomerate 3M reported earnings of $1.66 per share last quarter, surpassing estimates of $1.65 and last year's $1.60. Although revenue fell 2%, margins improved and shares of 3M surged 1.8%. ExxonMobil increased its profits by 49%, although Q2 earnings per share fell $0.09 short of analysts' projections of $1.95. Exxon shares posted mild gains, up 0.75%. United Technologies also lagged the Dow slightly, even though its quarterly earnings of $1.47 per share exceeded expectations of $1.42 per share. Conference call listeners were surprised that CEO Louis Chenevert participated in the call instead of the CFO, a move intended to highlight the importance of United Technologies' $16.5 billion purchase of aerospace manufacturer Goodrich. United Technologies shares gained only 0.2%.
So far, the ups and downs of earnings season could make an investor dizzy. The invincible Apple finally showed it can miss expectations and Zynga showed just how hard a stock can fall on an earnings miss. All eyes will turn to Amazon and Facebook later today when they release earnings reports this afternoon. To stay up-to-date on the latest news, be sure to take advantage of the free My Watchlist feature from The Motley Fool. To get started, click one of the links below: