Stock Markets Continue Higher After Mini-Crash

After a mini-flash crash just after 1 p.m. EDT, stocks continued higher today, driven by a few strong earnings reports. The mini-crash occurred after hackers apparently got into the Associated Press' Twitter account and tweeted about a terror attack on the White House. Traders soon came to their senses, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up 0.98% late in trading, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is pushing 0.95% higher. 

Travelers (NYSE: TRV  ) is up 2.1% after its first-quarter net income rose 11% to $896 million. On a per-share basis, that's $2.33 -- well above the $2.02 average estimate from analysts. The company is increasing premiums on customers to offset more frequent natural disasters and low interest rates, and the effects are now showing up on the bottom line. It doesn't hurt that catastrophe costs -- a figure that can turn at the drop of a hat -- were down 45% to $65 million this quarter. Overall, Travelers' strategy is working, and investors are buying the strong quarter today. 

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) is also having a good day, climbing 3.4% thanks to Betsy Graseck, an analyst for competing bank Morgan Stanley. She upgraded Bank of America to overweight and increased her price target to $16, a premium of 37% from Monday's close. The bank's cost-cutting was cited as a driver of increased profit this year, which the analyst thinks will propel the stock higher. 

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The one Dow stock moving significantly lower after reporting earnings is United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) . The stock has fallen 0.7% today after the company reported a 16% rise in revenue to $14.39 billion. The problem is that revenue fell short of the $14.94 billion estimate, and the company said sequestration might have a $0.10 per-share impact on full-year earnings. I don't think this was a terrible report, especially when you consider that EPS of $1.39 actually beat estimates by $0.09, but investors are concerned about growth, and United Technologies didn't show nearly enough in the first quarter.  


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