The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) shook off a morning stumble to rise 28 points into the green as of 11:30 a.m. EDT Thursday. Dow Jones component Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) fell nearly 0.7% ahead of its earnings report, while shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) both rose notably following the companies' own respective quarterly reports.
Durable goods beats expectations
According to the Census Bureau, durable goods orders rose 2.6% on a month-over-month basis in March, while core durable goods (which excludes transportation items) rose 2%. Both numbers beat estimates of 2% and 0.6%, respectively.
Data on durable goods is seen as a key measure of economic activity, as durable goods are generally expensive, long-lasting items, often involved in economic activity.
Microsoft prepares to report
Investors sold Microsoft shares ahead of the company's earnings report expected this afternoon. Analysts are looking for the software giant to report quarterly earnings per share of $0.63 on revenue of about $20.4 billion.
Investors should look to the report to see how Microsoft's ongoing transition is performing. In particular, it will be interesting to see if the end of Windows XP support was able to catalyze a sufficiently potent Windows upgrade cycle, and how successful Microsoft expects its release of Office for the iPad to be.
Facebook jumps after earnings
Facebook was up 2.4% after reporting earnings yesterday after the close of trading. Facebook exceeded analyst estimates both for revenue ($2.5 billion versus $2.36 billion) and earnings per share ($0.34 versus $0.24). Its total monthly active users numbered 1.28 billion. Facebook also announced that CFO David Ebersman would step down later this year, to be replaced by executive David Wehner.
Apple surges after crushing analyst estimates
Apple shares, meanwhile, surged more than 8% early in the session. Apple reported a strong quarter on Wednesday, beating analyst expectations in almost every category.
Revenue came in stronger than expected ($45.6 billion versus $43.6 billion), as did earnings per share ($11.62 versus $10.16). iPhone sales also came in better than analysts had anticipated -- Apple sold 43.7 million, compared to a 37.7 million estimate. Perhaps most impressive, Apple's gross margin jumped to 39.3%; analysts had only expected the company to report a gross margin of 37.7%.
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