The market has roared higher today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) makes its way toward yet another record high. As of 2:15 p.m. EDT, the Dow has picked up more than 75 points, with most member stocks in the green. However, it's been big mover Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) that has dominated the action so far today, as the chipmaker's stock has surged 8.2% higher to lead the Dow by a huge margin. Intel investors are cheering the company's quarterly results, but Bank of America's (NYSE: BAC ) quarterly report hasn't been so kind to the financial sector today; the big bank's stock has slipped 1.8% on its own earnings. Let's catch up on what you need to know.
China rises, Intel thrives
Today's upbeat market started early across the Pacific this morning, as China released a well-received update on the country's economic growth. Chinese GDP growth climbed back to 7.5% in the April-June quarter, up from 7.4% in the first quarter and matching Beijing's long-term growth target. The world's second-largest economy has benefited from the government's monetary stimulus measures, and analysts project that Chinese easing should keep growth in the world's second-largest economy at an acceptable level through the end of 2014.
However, long-term Chinese growth pictures still look murky. Questions over rising debt have swirled about the propositions of broader stimulus measures in the future, particularly as fiscal spending accelerated by 26% in June. On the other hand, pulling back on stimulus could slow down the Chinese economy in 2015 -- much as the nation's GDP growth fell to an 18-month low in the first quarter. With foreign investment slowing to a trickle, China will need to rely more and more on domestic output to keep its economy in shape, which is no sure feat after housing sales swooned by more than 9% in the first half of the year.
China's short-term picture looks fine through the end of 2014, but for investors in the world's most prized emerging market, the long term warrants caution.
That hasn't hurt Intel today, however, as the Dow's biggest gainer has soared on an upbeat earnings report. Intel pulled off a 40% gain in net profit in its second quarter as the tech giant's revenue jumped by 8% year over year. The PC market's bounce back helped the company recover some momentum as U.S. PC shipments picked up by nearly 7% in the second quarter, according to IDC.
However, Intel's long-term view requires more than just gains in the PC industry. The tech company has honed in on the cloud and the Internet of things to fuel growth in the future, and company CFO Stacy Smith cited Intel's Data Center group as fueling "great growth" in its most recent quarter. Intel's still struggling behind the leaders in mobile chipmaking, but even though company leadership sees the division continuing to weigh down results into 2015, Intel is looking to boost its product shipments greatly in 2014.
Meanwhile, Bank of America's stock has taken a hit following a lackluster quarterly report. B of A topped analyst expectations on its adjusted earnings, but profit still fell a whopping 43% in the second quarter as the company shelled out $4 billion in legal fees. Such expenses have become the norm in the financial sector this quarter; rival Citigroup reached a $7 billion settlement with the Department of Justice earlier this week. Bank of America's core businesses did well under the shadow of the payouts. Trading profit climbed by more than 14% for the quarter. However, with a Department of Justice settlement regarding mortgage-backed bonds still under negotiation, more legal-fee pain could be headed B of A's way in the near future.
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