A Solid-Looking Procter & Gamble Bolsters the Dow

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up on better-than-expected earnings from numerous companies, including Dow components Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) as well as a decent home sales report. The S&P 500 is also up, having hit a five-year high yesterday as its largest component, Apple, plunged. As of 1:15 p.m. EST, the Dow is up 52 points, or 0.38%, to 13,878. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up 0.39%.

This morning the Department of Commerce reported that sales of single-family homes fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000. That's below November's rate of 398,000 and analyst expectations of 385,000, but it's still up almost 9% year over year. New single-family homes sales have risen slowly but steadily since bottoming out in late 2010 to early 2011. They are still far below the levels hit in the boom years of 2004 to 2006, when single-family home sales consistently averaged a rate of more than 1.25 million.

US New Single Family Houses Sold Chart

US New Single Family Houses Sold data by YCharts.

What's really nudging the Dow up today is a bevy of better-than-expected earnings releases from numerous companies. Among Dow components, last night Microsoft reported expectation-beating earnings and its highest quarterly revenue ever. Non-Dow stocks Haliburton and Honeywell also reported forecast-busting earnings, though Honeywell shares are practically flat today.

Today's Dow leader
Today's Dow leader is Procter & Gamble, up 3.7% to $73.01. This morning the consumer goods company reported second-quarter earnings of $1.39 per share. Core earnings, which exclude a one-time gain and a restructuring charge, were $1.22 per share. Core earnings were up 12% from last year's $1.09, beating both analyst expectations of $1.11 and Estimize's "wisdom of the crowds" expectations of $1.13. Revenue was $22.2 billion, which also beat analyst expectations and Estimize's estimates of $21.9 billion.

The pleasantly surprising results were broad-based, with all of Procter & Gamble's segments reporting positive organic growth. Based on this quarter's positive results and improving business conditions, Procter & Gamble upped its full-year expectations for core earnings from a range of $3.80 to $4.00 per share to a range of $3.97 to $4.07 per share.

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