What to Expect From the Dow Today

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has had an exceptional week so far, edging up to an all-time closing high of 15,567.74 yesterday. The S&P 500 didn't set any records, but its 1,692-point finish keeps its year-to-date gains neck and neck with Mr. Jones.

^DJI Chart

^DJI data by YCharts.

Despite the Dow's daytime gains, yesterday's major mover was stock market giant Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) , up 3.9% in after-hours trading following its second-quarter earnings report. Not only did the company beat on sales, but its adjusted EPS clocked in at $7.47, beating analyst estimates by 2% above analyst estimates. More telling than the financial numbers, Apple's iPhone proved to be far from dead, with 20% year-over-year sales growth -- Fortune had estimated about 4% growth.

Apple's stock has made massive moves in the last year, and the aftereffects of its latest report could be felt well into the next few months.

Earnings announcements
Looking ahead, Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU  ) and New York Community Bancorp (NYSE: NYCB  ) will unveil their own earnings reports today. Baidu may be halfway around the world from the Dow, but as with many Dow components, the Chinese search engine's results are tied to emerging-economy growth. Shares are up 33% in the past three months despite signs of a slowing Chinese economy, and analysts have high expectations for 39% sales growth (although they're willing to let profit edge down 2%). 

New York Community Bancorp has big shoes of its own to fill. Shares are up 11.2% over the last three months and 21.7% over the past year. Stock price hikes have pushed its dividend yield down to 6.8%, but that's still double the industry's average 2.9% distribution. The bank has some wiggle room, given expectations for a 7.7% decrease in sales and a $0.04 drop in EPS to $0.26. Investors should look out for the effects of low interest rates, as well as trimmed margins from an increasingly time- and money-consuming regulatory environment.

Macro movers
It's easy to forget macro reports with earnings season speeding ahead, but an all-important housing indicator is set to hit the press this morning. New-home sales headed up 2.1% in May, and analysts are predicting another 1% bump for June. A report earlier this week put existing-home sales down 1.2% for June, alluding to potential trouble for the housing market's recent rise.

Investors will also get a glimpse of the state of manufacturing with Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index. Analysts are optimistic about July's report, expecting a 1.1% increase following June's flatline finish.

Energy analysts should keep an eye on the Energy Information Administration's weekly petroleum report. Crude-oil supplies are near all-time highs, but the last three weeks have seen inventories squeezed as refineries have optimistically increased inputs. Pump prices soared $0.147 in last week's report, creating plenty of room for a downward push today. Energy inventories are considered by many investors to be the economy's biggest "tell," and another inventory decrease could be just what the Dow doctor ordered.

If this earnings season is any evidence, dividend stocks will make you rich -- simple as that. While they don't garner the notoriety of highflying growth stocks, they're also less likely to crash and burn. And over the long term, the compounding effect of the quarterly payouts, as well as their growth, adds up faster than most investors imagine. With this in mind, our analysts sat down to identify the absolute best of the best when it comes to rock-solid dividend stocks, drawing up a list in this free report of the only nine that fit the bill. To discover the identities of these companies before the rest of the market catches on, you can download this valuable free report by simply clicking here now.


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