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Economic activity surged in the Midwest in October according to the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, but it wasn't enough to stop stocks from sliding for the second day in a row as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) fell 73 points, or 0.5%.
The manufacturing index jumped to 65.9, its highest level since 2004 and the biggest jump in more than 30 years, up from 55.7 in September. The October figure soared past estimates of 55. The upsurge was driven by double-digit gains in new orders, production, and order backlogs, and the report seems especially promising since it came during a month when the government was shut down for over two weeks. Meanwhile, initial unemployment claims fell to 340,000 from 350,000 a week ago, but that was worse than estimates of 335,000.
Reacting to those economic reports and a slew of earnings releases including those of Facebook, Starbucks, and ExxonMobil, the Dow was particularly volatile today, trading up most of the afternoon but dipping late for no clear reason. With the Fed's recent decision to maintain its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program now in the rearview mirror, the market seems to be struggling to find a new focal point.
In today's earnings reports, Avon Products (NYSE:AVP) imploded, falling 22% after revealing in its earnings report today that it could face worse punishment than expected for a bribery scandal. The beauty-products maker said SEC had demanded "monetary penalties of a magnitude significantly greater" than it had anticipated, resulting from accusations that the company paid off foreign officials. Operations-wise, Avon continued to struggle as sales were down 7% and earnings per share fell to a loss of penny, both worse than expectations.
Moving the other direction was Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), which jumped 18%, as earnings beat estimates, coming in at $1.43 vs. the $1.35 consensus. Sales also increased 17% as the online travel industry seems to have fertile ground in hotel bookings. Expedia owns Hotels.com. The company also said that referrals from TripAdvisor had improved.
Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends TripAdvisor. It recommends and owns shares of Facebook and Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.