The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was trading 99 points higher, or 0.60%, by midafternoon with some help from drugmaker Merck's latest earnings report.
"The market has grown more volatile, in a sense that it reacts more to daily news like the earnings. In general, the market is trying to figure out a level that investors are comfortable with and that is why we are seeing big daily swings recently," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management, according to Reuters.
Although the market is increasingly volatile in response to daily headlines and earnings reports, investors would be wise to keep long-term perspectives on their investments and recognize that, as long as a company's underlying business remains strong, daily fluctuations in price mean very little.
With that in mind, here are some companies making headlines today.
Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) , fresh off its better than expected first-quarter results, announced it would close the Fountain Inn plant in South Carolina and move its operations to Georgia and Texas. Caterpillar plans to close the plant by the end of the year, eliminating 380 full-time and 130 temporary jobs. Tana Utley, vice president with responsibility for the large power systems division at Caterpillar, acknowledged the decision would be hard on South Carolina employees of the heavy-equipment manufacturer.
"However, after considering our options, we have concluded we must move forward with this decision for better asset utilization. Our goal is to improve efficiency across our engine manufacturing footprint, while providing the highest quality products for our customers. We are committed to the industries served by products from Fountain Inn, including Marine and Industrial, and we will maintain and grow that commitment under this improved manufacturing strategy," said Utley, according to WYFF4.com.
This has increasingly been a focus of Caterpillar, which cut its global full-time workforce from 124,874 at the end of the first quarter of 2013 to 116,579 at the end of last quarter. The company continues to see weak demand for its mining equipment and is pushing to minimize costs and improve operating efficiency as much as possible.
In other news, America's second-largest automaker, Ford (NYSE: F ) , is recovering some of its losses today after its stock price declined in the wake of last week's weaker than expected first-quarter earnings. As some investors headed to the door, sending Ford's stock price lower, two large banks recommended buying shares today.
Citigroup kept a $19 price target for Ford and put a buy rating on the stock. Deutsche Bank also reiterated Ford's stock as a buy and noted its first-quarter performance was better than it appeared.
"But excluding ~$500MM of unusual items incurred in North America, North American pre-tax earnings would have been exactly on target with our $2.0 bn estimate and total company pre-tax earnings would have been ~$1.9 bn, which compared with our $1.8 bn estimate," TopNewsToday.org quoted the Deutsche Bank report as saying .
With Ford's first-quarter performance in the rearview mirror, investors will now look toward April vehicle sales due out Thursday. A key segment to watch will be the full-size truck segment which represents a majority of the company's profit.
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