Stocks closed with broad-based gains today after the Federal
Reserve voted to keep interest rates unchanged and forecast further
declines in unemployment by the end of the year. All 10 industry
sectors in the S&P 500 ended higher, including a 2.5% rise
among technology stocks following another blow-out quarter for
Apple. Energy stocks rallied this afternoon after some of the Fed
post-meeting comments indicated continued signs of economic
The Federal Open Markets Committee finished its latest 2-day
meeting this morning, and as expected, made no changes in monetary
policy. Financial stocks briefly turned south after the Fed
statement warned of "strains in the global financial markets" but
soon rebounded as the rest of today's market maintained advances.
New projections released by the Fed showed some of the more dovish
officials no longer want to put off a rate increase until 2016,
which some market participants took as a sign that the U.S. economy
continues to mend.
The projections showed seven officials now believe it would be
appropriate to raise borrowing costs some time in 2014, up from
five in January, while only four wanted to wait longer. In January,
six wanted to wait until after 2014, including two who wanted to
hold off until 2016.
Still, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said during a news conference
today the central bank "would not hesitate" to launch another round
of bond purchases to drive borrowing costs lower if it looked like
the economy needed it.
Stocks leapt out of the gate following strong earnings by Apple
) and Boeing (
), pushing aside weak data on durable goods during March. Orders
for items intended to last more than three years posted their
biggest decline in three years, falling 4.2% in March to a
seasonally adjusted $202.57 billion, the Commerce Department
reported today. February orders were revised downward to 1.9% from
an originally reported 2.4% rise. The decline in March orders was
largely due to a 47.6% falloff in commercial aircraft orders
although the report also saw dips for machinery, computers and
In company news, quarterly profit at Apple Inc (
) almost doubled after a jump in iPhone sales. The stock, which
dominates U.S. markets because of its size, had sold off recently,
partly on fears earnings could disappoint. AAPL shares are up more
than 9% today, climbing past $600 a share again, propelling the
Nasdaq Composite Index to nearly a 2% advance.
Boeing Co. (
) is up nearly 4%, the most in almost five months, after posting Q1
earnings that beat analysts' estimates and raising its FY12
forecast. Net income rose 58% to $923 million, or $1.22 a share,
buoyed by increased deliveries of commercial jets. Analysts had
been expecting a $0.93-a-share gain, according to Bloomberg News.
Sales rose 30% to $19.4 billion, beating the average estimate of
$18.3 billion among analysts. The manufacturer also boosted its
full-year profit forecast by $0.10 a share to a new range of $4.15
to $4.35 a share after reducing a litigation-related reserve.
But shares of Catepillar (
) are down about 4% despite a 29% rise in Q1 profits to $2.37 a
share after its $15.98 billion in sales, excluding recent
acquisitions and its finance arm, missed Wall Street forecasts.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted a per-share profit
of $2.13 on revenue of $16.22 billion. The heavy-equipment
manufacturer also increased its FY12 profit forecast, but left its
revenue projection unchanged from its January statements.
The earnings season so far has been stronger than expected with
more than three-quarters of the 153 companies in the S&P 500
companies so far reporting results beating analyst estimates,
according to Thomson Reuters Proprietary Research as of
Commodities ended mixed. Crude oil for June delivery settled up
57 cents to $104.12 a barrel. June gold Jun gold fell $1.60 to
finish at $1641.90 an ounce whle May silver fell 34 cents to finish
at $30.42. May copper rose 3 cents to $3.70 while May natural gas
had one of its best session in several weeks, rising nearly 11
cents to settle at $2.082 per 1 million BTU.
Here's where the markets stood at the end-of-day:
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 88.48 (+0.68%) to 13,090.04
S&P 500 up 18.78 (+1.37%) to 1,390.75
NASDAQ Composite up 68.03 (+2.30%) to 3,029.63
Hang Seng Index down 0.15%
China Shanghai Composite Index up 0.75%
FTSE 100 up 0.16%
(+) CRAY, Selling $140 million of hardware assets to Intel.
(+) EW, Reports $0.53 a share Q1 profit vs. $0.48 in analyst
(+) GEOI, Agrees to $1-billion buyout by Halcon Resources
(-) LNET, Q1 net loss widens to $0.14 a share from $0.09 in
(-) HES, Won't meet 60,000-barrel-a-day target for Bakken field
in North Dakota.
(-) ICON, Q1 adjusted EPS misses by $0.03; cuts FY12 EPS
forecast by $0.12 a share.