Today's Dow Winners

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is down for the second day in a row following some mixed economic releases. As of 1:25 p.m. EDT the Dow is down 39 points, or 0.27%, to 14,579. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is down 0.33% to 1,547.

There were two U.S. economic releases today.

Report

Period

Result

Previous

Weekly jobless claims

April 6 to April 13

352,000

348,000

Conference Board Leading Economic Index

March

(0.1%)

0.5%

The key report is the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index, which declined by 0.1% in March, short of February's 0.5% growth and analyst expectations of 0.2% growth. The index is made up of 10 indicators and is designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle. Contributing to the drop were the ISM New Orders Index, the drop in building permits, and average consumer expectations for business conditions. Although the index dropped, it still points to growth -- just slower growth. After the index rose for three months, investors were dismayed by the fall, especially because sequestration hadn't fully taken effect in March.

Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) , up 3.5% after it reported quarterly earnings this morning. Analysts had expected the company to report earnings per share of $0.66 and revenue of $29.6 billion. Verizon bested expectations with earnings per share of $0.68, up 15% from last year's $0.59 per share. However, it missed expectations on revenue with sales of $29.4 billion, up 4% from last year's $28.2 billion.

The positive results were led by Verizon Wireless, which grew by 8% and expanded its margins by 4%. Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon and Vodafone (NASDAQ: VOD  ) , which owns 45%. There has been much speculation that Verizon might buy Vodafone's stake or perhaps buy all of Vodafone, but the company flatly denies that it will make a bid.

Second for the Dow today is American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) , up 1.7% on a better-than-expected earnings release. The credit card giant reported earnings per share of $1.15 last night, beating analyst expectations of $1.12. Revenue of $7.9 billion slightly missed Wall Street forecasts of $8 billion. Within the positive results, the company made two announcements about returning value to shareholders. First, the company plans to buy back $3.2 billion worth of stock over the course of the year. Second, American Express will raise its dividend by 15% to $0.23 per share, which gives the stock a forward yield of 1.4%.

That's a rather meager dividend. If you're looking for more yield, I suggest you check out The Motley Fool's brand-new special report "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." It's absolutely free, so simply click here now and get your copy today.


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