Why Stocks Are Barely Hanging On Today

Blue-chip stocks are extending their gains today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) continues its ascent above the 15,000-point threshold. With roughly an hour left in the trading session, the index is up by 8 points, or 0.06%.

With an absence of economic news, the market is focused on events at a handful of key companies. Following the closing bell yesterday, media and theme park giant Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) reported earnings for the three months ended March 30. The company reported a 32% increase in its bottom line on a 10% expansion of revenue. Both were fueled by growth in its theme parks, ESPN division, and its film studio.

According to chairman and CEO Robert Iger, "Our results reflect our successful strategy, the strength of our brands and the value of our high-quality creative content, all of which continue to drive long-term growth and shareholder value."

Click here to read why shares of the company are nevertheless holding back the Dow.

Meanwhile, shares of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) are headed higher today as executives at the nation's second largest bank by assets take questions from analysts and shareholders at its 2013 annual meeting. Earlier this week, the bank announced that it had reached a settlement with mortgage-bond insurer MBIA (NYSE: MBI  ) to settle claims dating back to the financial crisis. The news was met with relief by shareholders of both companies, sending them up by roughly 4% and 45%, respectively, on Monday.

At the event today, and among other things, Brian Moynihan addressed the question of when Bank of America will raise its quarterly dividend payout, as he promised back in 2011. Moynihan said that the primary impediment to doing so is showing a consistent earnings stream, something it's been unable to do thanks to massive expenses from legal settlements and souring subprime mortgages. But with every legal squabble it puts in the rearview mirror, the bank gets closer to honoring this promise.

Finally, McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) is watching as its shares head lower in afternoon trading. The fast food company reported earlier today that same-store sales fell 0.6% last month thanks to lagging demand in Europe and Asia. Analysts had predicted the number would come in at a negative 0.48%. In prepared remarks, the company's chairman and CEO Don Thompson noted that, "As we begin the second quarter against the backdrop of a persistently challenging macro environment, the McDonald's System is aligned around executing our long-term strategies to drive sustained, profitable growth."

McDonald's turned in a dismal year in 2012, underperforming the broader market by 25%. Looking ahead, can the Golden Arches reclaim its throne atop the restaurant industry, or will this unsettling trend continue? Our top analyst weighs in on McDonald's future in a recent premium report on the company. Click here now to find out whether a buying opportunity has emerged for this global juggernaut.


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