After a strong week that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) to record highs again, the blue chips finished essentially flat today, gaining just three points, or 0.02%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up 0.3% and 0.6%, respectively, as Boeing (NYSE: BA ) cooled off what would have been a stronger gain for the Dow (more on that later).
Kicking off the day, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) reported earnings before markets opened, as investors looked for insights into the affect rising interest rates would have on the economy. At JPMorgan, profits rose 32%, as the banking giant lapped last year's "London Whale" trading loss, but it did see a decline in mortgage refinancing. CEO Jamie Dimon said he was optimistic about the economic recovery, seeing several signs of improvement. After adjustments, earnings per share came in line with estimates at $1.45, while revenue topped expectations. Shares finished down 0.3%. Wells Fargo, meanwhile, posted a per-share profit of $0.98 against the consensus of $0.93, as the nation's largest mortgage provider showed improvements in loan losses. Shares finished up 1.8%.
Later in the morning, the June Producer Price Index came out showing an increase of 0.8%, though the core rate, which includes food and energy, was up just 0.2%, indicating that inflation is still under control. The preliminary July consumer sentiment report from the University of Michigan rated 83.9, still strong, but below estimates of 85.0.
As alluded to before, Boeing shares dove 4.7% this afternoon after a Dreamliner jet caught fire at London's Heathrow airport. The Ethiopian Airlines jet was empty at the time, but the fire shows that the battery problems that had caused the jets to be grounded for three months earlier this year may not be solved. Investigators have not yet determined if the fire came from the lithium-ion battery, and no official statement has been made by the National Transportation Safety Board. Shares rebounded slightly after photos showed the fire came from a compartment away from the battery pack. Separately, a 787 departing from Manchester, England had to return to the airport for unspecified mechanical problems.
Finally, AT&T (NYSE: T ) announced after hours that it would buy Leap Wireless (NASDAQ: LEAP ) , the parent of the low-price Cricket provider, paying $1.19 billion in cash, or nearly twice Leap's market cap at closing. Leap shares shot up a stunning 116% on the news, while AT&T was flat. The deal comes following the antitrust ruling against AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile two years ago, and that company's merger with MetroPCS, as the major telecoms scramble to acquire more wireless spectrum. With Leap's 7 million subscribers and additional spectrum, the deal could be a smart move for AT&T, despite its hefty price tag.
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