The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was trading 46 points lower, or 0.28%, in midafternoon despite the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a seasonally adjusted gain of 288,000 U.S. jobs for April -- far above the expected 215,000. However, with market gains already in the books this week, analysts believe it will take more to send stocks higher.
"The market has gotten to fairly full level in terms of valuation, and at this point, we need strong earnings to drive the market higher. Economic news is not enough for some at this point," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management, according to Reuters.
Quarterly results with the potential to push the market higher will be few and far between as this earnings season winds down. To date, 75% of the S&P 500 has reported, with 68.2% of those companies beating expectations, 9.9% meeting expectations, and 21.9% coming in below estimates, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.
With that in mind, here are some companies making headlines today.
Inside the Dow, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) is still waiting to hear if its offer to acquire Alstom's energy business will be approved. The French conglomerate's board of directors has unanimously endorsed what would be a net $13.5 billion deal. A panel of independent directors is now set to consider the matter.
"This is the biggest deal we've ever done," GE CEO Jeff Immelt said, according to The New York Times. "We wouldn't have contemplated it without a certain amount of confidence that we knew the territory."
Immelt estimated it would bring around $10 billion in annual revenue and would immediately be accretive to earnings. General Electric would acquire Alstom's thermal power, renewables, and electrical grid divisions, which in 2013 brought in about 70% of Alstom's revenue.
The French government has not appeared pleased by the looming deal, and Siemens has a competing offer. But if it goes through it could be another great move for GE, which has a strong track record in making acquisitions and creating strong synergies with its existing businesses.
Outside the Dow, Ford (NYSE: F ) on Thursday reported strong improvements in its India operations. Ford India sales surged 83% to 13,297 in April, combining domestic sales and exports. While the overall sales figures remain insignificant when compared to the United States, the market remains a huge opportunity. India will play a large role for the Blue Oval, as its export business will supply sales in surrounding emerging markets in the Eastern Hemisphere.
However, there are hurdles to jump and much work to do before Ford can turn its India business into a major success.
"Despite ongoing business challenges faced by the Indian automotive industry, Ford India sales have held steady in April," said Vinay Piparsania, executive director of marketing, sales, and service at Ford India, in a press release. "In the run up to the formation of the next Government, we remain cautious and watchful in anticipation of progressive policy interventions to energize the Indian automotive sector."
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