Once again, earnings news was at the forefront of the stock market's moves today, and positive reports ruled the day. After having largely reined in expectations for the fourth quarter, analysts are now discovering that many companies have been able to surpass lowered estimates, and the net result has been a bullish trend that pushed the S&P 500 up for the eighth straight day. The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) haven't quite managed that winning streak, but the average still rose today, with a roughly 70-point gain adding to the Dow's advances from earlier in the week.
The Dow's big winner for the day was Procter & Gamble, which jumped almost 4% after this morning's positive earnings report. But also rising was JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , adding 1.7% after an analyst raised its price target on the stock. Overall, analysts and investors alike have been relatively slow to recognize the steady progress that the financial sector has made over the past four years, and even despite the London Whale trading scandal and other lingering issues about mortgage liability, JPMorgan is much stronger than it was in 2009.
Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX ) also posted solid gains of more than 4% after impressing investors with its quarterly report. Same-store sales rose 6% around the globe and 7% in the U.S. market, with contributions coming both from greater traffic as well as higher per-customer sales. With its dual approach of cashing in on K-Cups for rival Green Mountain Coffee's (NASDAQ: GMCR ) Keurig machines while at the same time offering its own Verismo brewer, Starbucks is redoubling its efforts to grow, and it's also planning to open even more stores both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the coming years.
Finally, Oshkosh (NYSE: OSK ) soared almost 19% after crushing earnings estimates despite a big drop in revenue. In particular, the defense segment suffered a 21% revenue decline, but the segment posted much better margins than analysts had expected. Moreover, with the company having already taken steps to reduce its exposure to the defense industry, Oshkosh has greatly reduced its vulnerability to any future defense cuts that come from the government's ongoing efforts to cut the deficit.
With big finance firms still trading at deep discounts to their historic norms, investors everywhere are wondering if this is the new normal or whether finance stocks are a screaming buy today. The answer depends on the company, so to help figure out whether JPMorgan is a buy today, I invite you to read our premium research report on the company today. Click here now for instant access!