Blue-chip stocks are broadly higher today following a better-than-expected earnings report from Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) and a key Federal Reserve official's comments about a continuation of quantitative easing. With an hour left in the trading session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) is up by 76 points, or 0.5%.
Shares of Home Depot are among the Dow's leaders this afternoon, up by 3%. The home improvement retailer reported expectation-stomping first-quarter results today. For the three months ended May 5, the company reported net earnings of $1.2 billion on $19.4 billion in revenue, equating to respective increases of 18% and 7.4% over the same time period of last year.
The impressive performance was the result of two trends. First, the housing market is improving. This is particularly the case as we enter the prime season for home sales. And second, Home Depot continued to benefit from rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the East Coast in the latter half of last year.
According to the company's chairman and CEO, Frank Blake, "In the first quarter, we saw less favorable weather compared to last year, but we continue to see benefit from a recovering housing market that drove a stronger-than-expected start to the year for our business."
Further fueling the optimism of stocks today were comments by two Federal Reserve officials about their support for continued quantitative easing. James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said that the program has been "effective" and that he supports its continuation. William Dudley, the president of the New York branch, followed this up by intimating that the central bank hasn't set a course on winding down the program.
And in one last piece of news that's spurring shares of the nation's largest bank by assets, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) won a proxy vote allowing him to continue occupying both positions. Jamie Dimon's dual roles had been challenged after it was reported last year that the bank had suffered a multibillion-dollar trading loss known as the "London Whale" scandal. Shares of JPMorgan are currently up by 1.6%.