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It was banner day on Wall Street today, as both the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) hit five-year highs. The blue chips finished the day up 53 points, or 0.4%, to close at 13,649.
News that Republicans would vote on a bill next week to push the deadline on the debt ceiling back to April helped shore up the market after a lull in the morning. Coming on the heels of fiscal cliff negotiations that had thrown stocks into a tailspin, the coming debt ceiling standoff had threatened to do the same, as Republicans have been refusing to raise the limit without spending cuts. Now it seems that the GOP has backed away from the potentially disastrous maneuver, and are agreeing to raise the debt limit for the short term to allow more time to put together a budget that includes spending cuts.
Only one economic report came out today, the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, which showed a rating of 71.3, below expectations of 75.
Turning to Dow components, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) was up 3.5%, after beating estimates on both top and bottom lines. Adjusted EPS came in at $0.44, a penny above analyst projections, and revenue rose 3.6%, to $39.33 billion. The conglomerate also reported a record order backlog worth $210 billion, and said it has a cash windfall to look forward to over the next three years that includes $17 billion from selling its stake in NBC, and increased funds from its financial arm, GE Capital, which delivered $6.4 billion back to headquarters in 2012.
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) , which reported earnings last night, fell 6.3%, as profits dropped 27%. Though earnings actually beat estimates, the chip-maker's revenue dropped 3%, and its outlook for the beginning of 2013 disappointed. As the PC market shrivels up, it figures Intel will continue to struggle to find growing revenue streams.
Finally, machinery-maker Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) does not report earnings until January 28th, but the company warned after hours today that it will take a charge after discovering "accounting misconduct" at a subsidiary of a Chinese company it recently acquired. As a result, the manufacturer will take a goodwill impairment charge of $580 million, or $0.87 a share in the fourth quarter. After gaining 2% during the trading session, shares fell 1.5% after hours.
Following a solid earnings beat today, things may be looking up for GE. Find out what our industrials editor has to say in our premium research report, all about the giant conglomerate. This analysis breaks down the company's business segments and revenue streams, and lets you know the opportunities and risks facing GE today. As a free bonus, it even comes with a year's worth of updates, so you'll stay informed on earnings reports and any other breaking news. To get started with this exclusive new package today, all you have to do is click right here.