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It was a slow day on Wall Street as investors continue to debate how long the Federal Reserve will continue its stimulus program -- but it always makes for an entertaining trading session when you learn midday about how one Canadian mayor admitted to smoking crack while in office. Back here in the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) slipped 21 points Tuesday on some corporate earnings, despite one solid econ report.
Here's a look at what you need to know for Wednesday, Nov. 6.
1. Tesla Motors earnings
Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA ) sold 5,500 Model S cars last quarter -- so is that good? Deutsche Bank and Barclays stock analysts were hoping to see more than 5,800 electric cars quietly buzzing off Tesla lots. The uber-cool, all-electric-car company (whose vehicles still don't seem to be found outside California) reported revenues of $430 million in the third quarter, up from just $50 million the year before, recording a loss of $38 million.
After years of losses, Tesla turned its first-ever profit in the second quarter of 2013, pushing its stock to record heights. Suddenly Tesla was up 500% year to date and was a $20 billion company keeping Detroit auto executives rolling in scary, electrified nightmares. But when your CEO says that your stock price is higher than you deserve, it sobers investors. After peaking at $193 a share in September, the stock is trading below $160 after this earnings report.
CEO Elon Musk, the billionaire playboy who actually resembles Tony Stark in more than one way (aside from the facial hair), forecasted year-end total sales of 21,000 model S cars. That would bring the total number on the road to 25,000. After growing so rapidly through all of 2013, Tesla's numbers lacked the "wow" factor, resulting in disappointing results and a stock sell-off.
2. AOL earnings plunge, but stock surges
You've got mail -- and a bad earnings report. America's favorite Internet service provider (from back when you first found out about the World Wide Web and the Spice Girls), AOL (UNKNOWN: AOL.DL ) , reported earnings that were not super-good, with profits plunging 90% from last year -- but it still beat some very low expectations, pumping the stock up 8.52% Tuesday.
Why's that? Investors are fans of the news that AOL is finally cutting its failed local news platform/experiment called Patch (the fact that you've probably never heard of it is says a lot about the business). Plus, they liked how AOL's revenues surged $561.3 million on its growing advertising business -- those revenues helped the company beat some pretty low earnings expectations and the big profit drop caused by the Patch restructuring.
The takeaway is that AOL has been trying to find its way over the past couple of years and is slashing its Patch workforce by half. So how stressful are things over at AOL right now? Remember when their CEO fired a fellow exec two months ago in the middle of a 1,000-person conference call? That kind of drama is AIM-worthy.
3. U.S. non-manufacturing activity's lookin' good
Everyone loves econ data, especially the good kind. According to the Institute of Supply Management and its monthly survey of 400 U.S. companies, business activity among America's "non-manufacturing" sector rose from a solid 54.4 to a more solid 55.4 on the research firm's index. The report includes retail, communication, and transportation companies that arguably aren't as tough as the companies in ISM's Manufacturing Index.
The takeaway is that business activity in the sector has notably risen in three out of the past four months -- and that is expected to boost investors' forecasts for America's fourth-quarter GDP performance. Later this week (Thursday, specifically), the U.S. government releases its first reading on U.S. GDP from the third quarter, so the big question is whether America is rolling high. Considering how much the MarketSnacks team spent on Made-in-America Snickers and Butterfingers last week, we'd be shocked if it didn't. Also keep your eyes out for Friday's October jobs report.