Stock markets moved sideways today on a few conflicting economic reports. The Chicago PMI fell to 49 in April from 52.4 in March, which shows contraction in manufacturing. On the flip side, the Conference Board's reading of consumer confidence jumped to 68.1 in April from 61.9 in March. Investors didn't know what to do with this information, so the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) finished the day with small gains.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) stock was one of the leaders on the Dow, rising 0.8% after suffering losses yesterday due to rumors that Vodafone would be more expensive than some anticipated. Verizon also said it will spend $100 million to install solar systems and fuel cells at 19 of its U.S. facilities, including office buildings, call centers, and data centers. Fuel cells saved Verizon's Garden City office on Long Island from blackouts after Hurricane Sandy, and the company is seeing value in using solar power and fuel cells as power sources in other locations. This isn't really a big value-driver for Verizon stock, but it shows the company's foresight in preparation for potential disasters.
IBM (NYSE: IBM ) gained 1.7% after it announced a $5 billion share repurchase plan and a 12% increase of its dividend to $0.95 per share. The stock took a hit after the company missed first-quarter earnings estimates, but investors should be happy about the return of cash to shareholders.
The big loser on the Dow was Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) , which lost 4.5% today. The company just reported first-quarter results: Revenue fell 9% from a year ago, and earnings of $0.54 per share were $0.02 short of estimates. Lipitor's patent expiration has been extremely tough on the company, and it's difficult to see a lot of upside other than the 3.2% dividend yield. As blockbuster drugs go generic, it hurts Pfizer, and the company doesn't have the pipeline to keep revenue up at attractive levels.
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