Today brought a solid close to the week for investors as stocks across the market have bounced higher, led by the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) jump to 33 points in the green as of 2:30 p.m. EDT. Most stocks on the index are in the green today, but few are jumping like ExxonMobil's (NYSE: XOM ) 1.4% gain. Meanwhile, video game retailer GameStop's (NYSE: GME ) shares have rebounded off of the company's disappointing earnings with a big pop today. Let's catch up on what you need to know.
Consumer spending rises, but caution remains
The Commerce Department announced this morning that American spending jumped 0.3% in February, matching forecasts from economists. Don't get too excited, however: Most of that gain came from health care and utility spending, while durable goods spending actually decreased in February. As the winter weather subsides and Americans get used to Obamacare's rollout, expect those figures for health care and utilities to drop in the coming months. If consumers remain stingy with their purchases, U.S. GDP could have a hard time picking up speed in the coming months, particularly as first-quarter economic growth is expected to take a hit from the winter.
Energy giant ExxonMobil jumped following an upgrade to buy from Merrill Lynch yesterday. Merrill sees the potential for improved cash flow out of Exxon in the coming years, but it's worth using caution with this Big Oil stock. The company's earnings have taken a beating lately, and Exxon sees capital spending declining again in the near future despite its opening of numerous new projects. That should help increase production. Still, it can't hurt to take a wait-and-see attitude for a company that has investments in Russia, given the current tensions between the West and Russia.
GameStop jumped 6.6% as one of the market's biggest gainers among sizable stocks. The company's earnings, reported yesterday, certainly didn't help its stock: earnings per share declined to $1.90 for the quarter when adjusted for one-time items, a fall of more than 10% year over year and a big enough drop to miss analyst projections of $1.92. GameStop's revenue did rise, though. Despite projecting revenue growth in the high single-digit to low double-digit percentages in the coming year, GameStop let down analysts who expected more from the company in 2014 following the releases of new game consoles by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) and Sony.
Still, GameStop is doing its best to shake the pessimism. Although the company will have to deal with Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT ) entry into its core used-game business in the future, the company is diversifying by opening electronics and tech-focused stores that will sell products from major tech giants in order to appeal to a broader audience. Still, with the decline of retail in the consumer electronics market, it's difficult to imagine a stellar success from GameStop's latest move. Tread lightly around this stock's rise today.
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