For the third day in a row, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) failed to move significantly, falling 24 points or 0.2%. Economic reports out today were essentially as expected, while three of the biggest companies to report earnings yet -- eBay, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , and Goldman Sachs -- all beat estimates.
JPMorgan, the country's No. 1 bank by assets, said profits rose 53% in the fourth quarter to $1.39 a share from $0.90 a year ago. That figure topped Wall Street estimates of $1.16, but the big news seemed to be that CEO Jamie Dimon's 2012 payout was slashed to $11.6 million because of the London Whale debacle. Shares opened lower but closed out the day up 1%.
The Consumer Price Index for December was flat as gas prices came down and customers tended to stay during the holiday shopping season, and industrial production was up a modest 0.3%. In the afternoon, the Federal Reserve delivered its Beige Book report, which comes out eight times a year. Though the announcement at times moves markets when interest rates are hanging in the balance, today the central bank merely observed that economic activity has continued to grow even as the fiscal cliff hampered consumer spending last month.
Boeing (NYSE: BA ) found itself in more hot water after an All Nippon Airways Dreamliner plane was again forced to make an emergency landing, this time because of a battery issue. Later on, just days after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood insisted the 787s were safe to fly, the FAA ordered all 787 Dreamliners to be temporarily grounded. The agency said airlines would have to demonstrate that the lithium ion batteries that have caused some of the problems were safe before they could fly the new jet again.
United is the only U.S. airline that currently flies the planes, but Japanese airlines followed suit and grounded their fleets. Only about 50 787s are operational, though Boeing has orders for at least 800 more, and there have already been several safety issues. Shares of Boeing dropped 3.4% during the trading session and another 2.1% after hours.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) shares jumped 4.1% after The Wall Street Journal reported that some buyers have expressed interest in its Autonomy and EDS units, which follows news earlier this week that rival Dell may be taken private. HP doesn't seem interested in selling at the moment, but the offers nonetheless caused shares to spike this afternoon.
Several Dow components will deliver earnings tomorrow, including American Express, Bank of America, and Intel.
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