With the Federal Reserve having taken its turn yesterday afternoon to try to bolster the fragile economic recovery in the U.S., investors turned their attention this morning to the European Central Bank, which has had to deal with a much more troublesome crisis within the eurozone. After having resisted further stimulative measures, the ECB finally decided to drop its key short-term interest rate to 0.5% in an attempt to curb unemployment. With inflationary pressures just about nonexistent, the ECB had room to move, and given similar actions from around the world, Europe was putting itself at a competitive disadvantage by not cutting rates in the past. This, combined with favorable news on unemployment claims front in the U.S., has helped the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) gained 60 points by 10:45 a.m. EDT, with the broader market posting somewhat larger gains on a percentage basis.
Within the Dow, gains were broad-based with relatively few standouts. Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) gained 1% after competitor Energizer Holdings (NYSE: ENR ) blamed P&G's promotional practices for the weak performance of Energizer's Schick line of shaving products. Although some investors have been concerned with the extent to which P&G may rely on promotions to try to recover market share, P&G executives have said the company's spending on promotions is in line with the industry and down from last year's levels. Still, P&G needs to keep demonstrating continued strength in order to regain confidence from its shareholders, who have been critical of CEO Robert McDonald and the company's business strategy.
Beyond the Dow, social-media stocks performed well in light of strong earnings. Yelp (NYSE: YELP ) soared 25% after weighing in with a much narrower loss than last year's quarter. A jump in sales of more than two-thirds was much stronger than expected, and even though earnings missed expectations, investors chose to follow the established pattern of focusing on revenue and letting net income settle itself out over the longer run.
Finally, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) picked up 3% after a favorable report encouraged investors about the company's growing mobile presence. Net income rose only modestly, but sales jumped 38%, beating expectations. More importantly, the share of revenue coming from mobile advertising rose by seven percentage points to 30%. Given the importance investors have placed on Facebook's development of a viable mobile strategy, the results show that the company is delivering on its promise.
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