Stocks are rallying, with all three major indexes up near 1% and
touching 2011 highs, on rising consumer confidence in April coupled
with upbeat earnings from Ford Motor Co. (
) and economic bellwether UPS (
). But skidding home prices may be tempering gains ahead of the
Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting.
Prices for residential real estate fell 3.3% in February from
the same month last year, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller
index of property values. The decline matched estimates according
to a Bloomberg news survey, but are testing lows set in 2009.
In contrast, confidence among consumers in the US grew in April.
The Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index
rose to 65.4 in April compared to the upwardly revised 63.8 reading
last month. It also topped economists' estimates.
Among big-name companies reporting earnings, Ford (
) is up 2.8% after reporting Q1 pre-tax EPS of $0.61 compared to
$0.50 last year, and finishing ahead of the Street's call for
$0.50. Revenue was $33.1 billion, up $5 billion from Q1 2010. The
Street was looking for $29.7 billion.
Meanwhile, shares of Coca-Cola (
) are down after the beverage maker said Q1 reported EPS were
$0.82, or $0.86 less items. The Thomson Reuters mean was for $0.87.
Sales were $10.517 billion, versus forecasts for $10.57078
In company news:
) says it received clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug
Administration (FDA) to market Xpert Flu. The diagnostic test,
which runs on CPHD's GeneXpert System, simultaneously detects and
differentiates Influenza A, Influenza B, and the 2009 H1N1
influenza virus in about one hour, it says.
) said that President Safra Catz will assume the additional
responsibility of Chief Financial Officer. Catz's appointment
follows the resignation of the company's current CFO, Jeff Epstein.
Catz's appointment is permanent and is effective immediately. Safra
Catz joined Oracle Corporation in April 1999 and has been President
since January 2004.
Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY) today announced that it has signed a
collaboration with Medtronic (MDT) to research and develop a new
approach to treating Parkinson's disease, involving the delivery of
a potential new medicine to the brain using an implantable drug
Shares of International Business Machines (IBM) are higher as
the company said its board raised the company's quarterly dividend
15% to $0.75 from $0.65 in the prior quarter. The board also
authorized an added $8 billion for the company's stock repurchase
Shares of MetLife (MET) are higher as Bloomberg reports that the
US life insurer was subpoenaed by regulators in California who are
reviewing whether the company failed to pay life insurance benefits
to named beneficiaries. California is widening an investigation
into whether life insurers withheld mony that was owed to
beneficiaries or the state, the report said.
In earnings news:
--Valero Energy (VLO) reported Q1 EPS from continuing operations
of $0.18 compared to a loss of $0.14 in the year ago quarter and
the Street view for $0.30, if comparable. Revenue expanded to $26.3
billion from $18.5 billion a year earlier. The Street looked for
--Delta Air Lines (DAL) reports a Q1 loss of $0.38, including
items such as a 30% jump in fuel prices. Results are down from the
prior year's quarter. Revenue was up 13% to $7.7 billion.
--Wilshire Bancorp (WIBC) says it swung to a net loss of $1.77
per share in Q1 from a year ago. The mean estimate at Thomson
Reuters, less items, was a loss of $0.04.
--Lexmark (LXK) shares are down sharply after the company said
Q1 net income fell to $1.04 per share, from $1.20 a year earlier.
Revenue fell 0.8% to $1.03 billion. Analysts were expecting revenue
of $1.05 billion, according to Thomson-Reuters.
Commodities are down. June gold contracts are down 0.68%, to
$1,499 an ounce while May crude oil contacts are down 0.13% to
$112.13 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is flat at
$44.53 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.17%,
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.5%
at $146.14. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 1.62% to
$60.19. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 4.04% to $43.89.
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