Earnings season kicked off this week, and so far the market likes what it sees. Dow components Alcoa and JPMorgan Chase both beat earnings estimates, and the Federal Reserve went to great lengths to tell the markets that interest rates will remain low for the foreseeable future. The Fed's reassuring words were especially helpful in pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) up 2.17% and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) up 2.96% for the week.
Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) led the way with a 6.1% gain this week. There wasn't an abundance of news out about the company, but the stock will often jump when investors feel more confident about the economy. Caterpillar reports earnings July 24, and that's when we'll learn how bullish management is about the domestic and global economy.
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO ) was up 5.6% to lead the Dow's tech stocks. The company announced a partnership with Microsoft to deploy hybrid cloud infrastructure worldwide, hoping to capitalize on explosive growth on the cloud. The stock also hit a new 52-week high, finally gaining momentum for one of the best values in tech. Cisco still trades at just 14 times earnings and the company's 2.7% dividend yield and $47 billion in cash make this a good buy even at the new high.
Rounding out the top three is Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , which was up 5.5% this week. The company doesn't report earnings until next week, but strong results from JPMorgan and Wells Fargo hint at a strong quarter. The question going forward is what happens with mortgage volume? Rates are up about 1% in the past month and that could kill momentum in the housing industry, which has been fueled by low rates. Watch Bank of America's comments next week to get a clue how they see the mortgage business shaping up.
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