This morning, investors received two key economic data points and a number of earnings reports, which ultimately caused the markets to fall. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) closed the day down 81 points, or 0.56%, and now sits at 14,537, which is a far cry from the 15,000 some investors were hoping to see this week. The S&P 500 closed the day down 10 points, or 0.67%, while the Nasdaq plummeted 1.2% during today's trading session.
One of the economic reports was the Labor Department's initial jobless claims number, which rose last week by 4,000, to 352,000, while economists were expecting only 346,000. The other data point came from the Commerce Department, and focused on housing starts during the month of March. On a seasonally adjusted basis, analysts were expecting 917,000 starts, but the number actually came in at 1.04 million.
While one number indicates the economy is growing stronger, the other point gives investors a slightly less optimistic view. But, regardless of what economic data is telling investors, what truly matters is earnings, and today, a few of the Dow's components rose higher on the back of good results.
Shares of American Express (NYSE: AXP) were higher by 1.42% after the company released strong earnings last night after the closing bell. The company reported that net income rose 2% and hit $1.15 per share, while analysts were expecting $1.12 per share. But, while the company beat expectations on the bottom line, American Express missed on the top line when they reported $7.88 billion, which represented 4% growth from the first quarter last year;l analysts wanted to see $8.03 billion on the top line. The company also reported that card member spending grew 7%, which represents the fourth consecutive quarter of growth.
Telecommunications giant Verizon (NYSE: VZ) saw its shares soaring higher today after the company announced earnings this morning. The company also missed on the top line, but beat on the bottom. Revenue was expected to hit $29.6 billion, but came in at $29.2 billion, while Verizon's earnings per share were estimated at $0.66, but hit $0.68 per share. Although revenue missed, it did come in 4% higher than last year.
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) shareholders also had a good day, as shares rose 1.41%. The rise was likely due to comments made by the company's competitor Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD). AMD is planning to get as much as 20% of its revenue outside PC chip sales by the fourth quarter, which could be great news for Intel. If AMD finds success in other areas, it may gradually move away from PCs, opening up more opportunity up for Intel.
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