Despite a downward revision to the GDP, stocks still found a way to win today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) gained 49 point,s or 0.3%, and the S&P 500 moved up by the same percentage to hit yet another record high, closing at 1,858. The market was up close to 1% for much of the day, but fell late on concerns about instability in Ukraine, as two airports in Crimea were taken over by armed men purported to be from Russia.
Back home, the Commerce Department lowered its estimate of fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3.2% to 2.4%, a significant drop from the 4.1% growth rate reported in the third quarter. Even worse, economists said that GDP will grow less than 2% in the current quarter. Still, not all of today's economic data was negative. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index improved from 59.6 last month to 59.8, ahead of estimates at just 56.0, while the University of Michigan's consumer confidence rating inched up from 81.2 to 81.6, indicating that consumers continue to have faith in the economic recovery. Finally, pending home sales were essentially flat in January, increasing just 0.1%. That was better than December's fall of 5.8%, but worse than expectations of an increase of 0.8% as the housing market seems to have been a victim of the recent cold weather.
Turning to individual stocks, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) held its annual shareholders' meeting today, finishing the session down 0.3%. There was no proposal for the massive buyback that Carl Icahn had been demanding earlier, and Tim Cook spoke optimistically about a number of improvements in the pipeline, calling the new iPad Air "really profound," and said the company made more than $1 billion in revenue from Apple TV last year, indicating it could expand its ambitions in that arena. Still, Cook did not mention any brand-new products, and even teased the audience about a new launch, perhaps hitting a sore spot, as many investors have been waiting for another breakthrough product from Apple.
Elsewhere, MercadoLibre (NASDAQ: MELI ) shares jumped higher as the Latin American payments processor beat estimates on both top and bottom lines in its earnings report. Revenue in the quarter jumped 29.8%, to $134.6 million, ahead of expectations of $133.2 million, while EPS of $0.93 was better than the consensus at $0.78. We've seen a number of e-commerce players spike this week, and MercadoLibre seems to be the latest to join the party. As Latin American consumers move into the middle class and get accustomed to online shopping, I'd expect more earnings beats from MercadoLibre.
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