It's been a strange day on the markets, all right. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) has surged higher for most of the day, a bizarre hack of the Associated Press Twitter feed briefly sent the markets into free fall in the early afternoon. After that was cleared up, the Dow picked up the pace again and has since settled in for gain comfortably in the triple digits. As of 2:20 p.m. EDT, the index has climbed points, or %, to recover some of last week's losses. Strong earnings are pushing the markets higher, and, barring another Twitter-led panic, the Dow is set to close the day strong.
Twitter disrupts earnings season's gains
While the Dow has pushed into triple-digit territory for most of the day, the AP's Twitter account falsely reported explosions at the White House around 1 p.m. Stocks briefly dove into negative territory before the AP confirmed that the report was erroneous and the work of a hacker. The Dow snapped back into triple-digit gains shortly thereafter.
With the fear winding down, all eyes return to earnings season -- and the Dow had four firms at the plate today. Insurance company Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) kicked things off with a strong report this morning, and shares of the company have jumped 2%. Travelers reported an 11% year-over-year gain in earnings and record quarterly operating profit, easily beating average analyst expectations. The firm also raised its dividend, and despite record-low interest rates that have pressured the company's financials, Travelers' price hikes over the past couple of years have paid off: The company's consumer insurance business helped fuel the earnings beat.
DuPont (NYSE: DD ) also topped expectations today, and the stock sits atop the Dow so far with gains of 3.5%. The firm's net income climbed 6% year over year to $1.58 per share. A 14% increase in agricultural sales helped to offset the company's lagging performance-chemical business.
AT&T (NYSE: T ) will report earnings after the closing bell today, and the stock has been mostly stable so far, with shares up just 0.6%. Analysts expect earnings to rise by more than 6%, even as AT&T's revenue is projected to fall slightly.
Unfortunately, not every earnings report has been a boon to stocks today. United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) topped analyst earnings predictions with an EPS result of $1.39, up $0.36 from last year's quarter, but its revenue of $14.4 billion missed estimates despite rising 16% year over year. That miss has sent the stock skidding 1.6%, making it the worst-performing Dow component today. It was still a decent quarter for the company. United Technologies' aerospace business soared on the back of its Goodrich acquisition and a 4%-plus increase in operating profit at jet engine subsidiary Pratt & Whitney. One-time items did add $0.11 to earnings, however, and the revenue miss has been enough to wipe out any optimism about the company's quarter.
Raising dividends has been a trend among today's earnings results: Both DuPont and Travelers have increased their payouts. If you're looking for some long-term investing ideas, you're invited to 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.