After its worst day of the year yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.42%) bounced back today as investors saw buying opportunities and responded to a strong housing report and some bullish earnings reports. The blue chips finished the session up 1.1%.
Housing starts in March topped 1 million for the first time since 2008, hitting an annual rate of 1,036,000. Last month's figure beat expectations by more than 100,000, and was a strong gain from starts in February at 968,000, which was revised up from 917,000. Construction of multifamily units jumped 27%, while single-family homes dropped 4.8%. Building permits, a leading indicator for housing starts, came in below expectations, possibly indicating that last month's spike will be short-lived. The Consumer Price Index also declined slightly in March, essentially in line with expectations, indicating that despite the Fed's continued stimulus, the economy is far away from any inflation concerns.
Three Dow components reported earnings today, with two beating expectations.
Coca-Cola (KO -1.71%) jumped 5.7%, to a 15-year high, after reporting earnings this morning and announcing plans to unload some of its bottling assets. Coke delivered an adjusted earnings of $0.46 per share, a penny better than both its results from a year ago and the Wall Street consensus. Revenue declined by1% to $11.04 billion but that also slightly beat estimates as the beverage giant lost two calendar days in the quarter. Overall volume worldwide increased by 4%. Coke's decision to let go of some of its bottling operations comes less than three years after it doled out $12.3 billion to acquire those operations. The deal would give control back to five bottlers in exchange for money, territory, or other assets, but the details of the transactions have not yet been finalized.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -0.77%) also posted earnings today, gaining 2.1% as a result. The health-care giant beat Wall Street estimates with an adjusted earnings per share of $1.44, up from $1.41 a year ago and better than estimates at $1.40. Revenue jumped 8.5% to $17.50 billion, also above expectations, and increased 9.8% in constant dollars. The growth was led by prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication, improving 10% and 14%, respectively. Medical sales increased 10% but analysts had expected stronger growth in that category.
Intel (INTC 0.96%) was up 2.5% during the trading session and another 0.7% after hours once it reported quarterly results, despite forecasting a second-quarter sales decline of as much as 8% on slowing PC demand. The top chip maker remained confident in its full-year outlook, however, saying its new Haswell chips and ultra-thin laptops would reinvigorate sales in the latter half of the year. For the first quarter, Intel delivered sales of $12.58 billion, down 3% from $12.91 billion a year ago but in line with estimates. Earnings for the quarter was $0.40 a share, down from $0.55 a year ago, and a penny worse than analyst expectations.