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It was a week without a definitive direction on Wall Street, but at the end of the day, stocks continued to move higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was up 1.13% this week and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) rose 1.74%. On the economic front, we saw slow home sales on Monday, decent unemployment news on Thursday, and weaker-than-expected GDP and consumer confidence on Friday. But investors focused on more company-specific items to drive stocks higher.
DuPont (NYSE: DD ) led the Dow by jumping 7.5% this week. Last quarter's earnings disappointment set extremely low expectations for the company in the first quarter, but it was able to meet them. First-quarter revenue rose 2% to $10.4 billion, and earnings from continued operations fell slightly to $1.46 billion, or $1.56 per share. The real hope was that earnings will pick up later in 2013 because ag unit sales were up 14% and volume grew 8%, so we could be in for much better results in the future.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) rose 6.8% this week as sentiment toward the company continued to improve. Microsoft beat earnings estimates, and the stock continued its steady rise all week. The two main news items were a patent ruling win against Motorola and a debt offering. The patent ruling was the first of two major cases in which Google's Motorola subsidiary had claimed it was owed $4 billion in royalties, but the judge found that $1.8 million was a more appropriate payment. The second trial is set for this summer. The company also announced $2.7 billion in bond sales.
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) rounds out the top three, gaining 6.5% this week. The stock is especially sensitive to economic news, and despite GDP growth that came in lower than expected, investors were happy to see solid growth, and decent unemployment data helped pushed the stock higher. The company also settled with former Merrill Lynch brokers who claimed they were owed deferred compensation. The company will pay $21 million to settle the class action lawsuit, putting another black eye from the financial crisis behind it.
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