Hacked Twitter Account Ignites Flash Crash, but Stocks Still Surge

What were you doing at 1:07PM this afternoon? If you were responsible for social media at the Associated Press, odds are you were preparing to have a mild heart attack.

At exactly that moment, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) went into free fall, plummeting by 150 points in less than three minutes before quickly recovering. The cause? The Associated Press' Twitter account had been hacked and then used to announce that the White House was under attack.

As the news agency quickly noted in a follow-up statement:

"The @AP twitter account has been hacked. The tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise more as soon as possible."

And just when you thought earnings season was getting monotonous.

Speaking of earnings season, the actual news today is just that. Stocks are broadly higher today after a bevy of blue-chip companies reported better-than-expected first-quarter results.

Company

EPS Actual

EPS Estimate

Beat/(Miss)

Travelers (NYSE: TRV  )

$2.31

$2.02

14.36%

United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  )

$1.39

$1.29

7.75%

DuPont (NYSE: DD  )

$1.56

$1.53

1.96%

Source: The Wall Street Journal.

As you can see, the best performance of today's bunch was turned in by Travelers. For the quarter, the insurance company increased its bottom line by an impressive 11% over last year. According to chairman and chief executive officer Jay Fishman, this amounted to the insurer's "highest quarterly operating income per diluted share since Travelers' initial public offering in 2002."

While less impressive than Travelers', United Technologies' performance appeared at first to be a welcome relief to shareholders, as the industrial conglomerate beat bottom-line estimates by 7.75%. Yet shares of the company are down today -- in fact, that United Technologies is the worst-performing stock on the Dow. While United Technologies beat estimates for EPS, it missed revenue estimates: For the three months ended March 31, it notched $14.4 billion in revenue versus an expected $14.9 billion.

Shares of DuPont are leading the blue-chip index higher this afternoon, up more than 3.5% at the time of writing. As my colleague Dan Dzombak explained earlier today, DuPont is riding high on the heels of a better-than-expected first quarter in which it earned $1.56 per share on $10.4 billion in revenue.

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