Stocks rose today, lifted by earnings reports, economic data, and signs of cooperation from pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, and the S&P 500 touched an intraday trading high. By the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) had gained 61 points ro 0.4%. The S&P added on 0.5%, and the Nasdaq jumped 0.7%.
In the day's economic reports, existing home sales for June clocked in slightly higher than expected at an annual rate of 5.04 million, its strongest clip since October and above May's total of 4.91 million. Investors have become suspicious of the housing recovery after some recent underwhelming data and weak reports from home improvement retailers, but today's news seems to indicate that home-buying is on the mend, and may soon reach 2013 levels. Elsewhere, the Consumer Price Index showed that inflation remains under control, rising 0.3%, while core CPI, which strips out the volatile food and gas segments, increased by just 0.1%.
Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) was among today's losers, as its stock fell 2.9% after the beverage giant's results came in below expectations. Sales of Diet Coke fell and overall volume in North America, its biggest market, was flat. Around the globe, volume sales were up 3%. Because of currency translation, revenue fell 1% in the quarter to $12.57 billion, below estimates of $12.83, though sales would have increased 3% adjusting for currency effects. On the bottom line, its profit of $0.64 per share beat estimates by a penny. While Coca-Cola will to be a cash cow for years to come, it seems like the company will be only be more challenged to scratch out growth as soda consumption has fades in developed countries due to health concerns. Share buybacks will help inflate its EPS and its 2.9% dividend yield is a bonus, but investors looking for meaningful growth will probably have more success elsewhere.
After hours, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) turned in mixed results, beating earnings estimates but falling short on sales. The biggest company in the country based on market cap said revenue grew 5.9% in the quarter to $37.4 billion, missing the experts' view at $38 billion. The increase in sales was mainly driven by a 12.7% jump in iPhone sales, in large part because of its deal with China Mobile earlier this year, as sales soared 48% in China. Increasing Mac sales also contributed to the growth. In recent quarters, Apple had beaten sales estimates but fallen short on profits, but today was the opposite, as the company delivered a per-share profit of $1.28, up from $1.07 a year ago and ahead of expectations of $1.23 as gross margin improved to 39.4% from 36.9% a year ago. Looking ahead, Apple's guidance for the current quarter was on the weak side, projecting revenue of $37 billion to $40 billion, below estimates at $40.5 billion, while gross margin is expected to fall sequentially to 37%-38%. The company is widely expected to release the iPhone 6, the latest update to the franchise, in September and perhaps an "iWatch" later in the year. Today's report solidifies the tech giant as a mature company, but one that is capable of growing steadily and assured of generating huge cash flows. Its upcoming devices, however, should be the key to its results over the next few quarters. Shares were essentially flat in after-hours trading.
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