Alcoa's report Tuesday kicks off what may be a difficult season. Results may fall from a year ago, with revenue flat. The best group may be homebuilders.

By Charley Blaine Oct 8, 2012 12:08PM
Charley BlaineShortly after Tuesday's close, aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) will report its third-quarter results and kick off what is supposed to be a weak third-quarter earnings season.

Investors will hear a lot from big multinationals like Alcoa, Caterpillar (CAT), Boeing (BA), 3M (MMM), United Technologies (UTX) about how business has been affected by slowing economies in Europe, Japan and China.

Later on, in early November, when retailers start to report, the focus will shift to domestic consumer confidence, with analysts and investors pondering the prospects for this year's holiday shopping season.

When all is reported, at least for Standard & Poor's 500 companies, earnings will have fallen 2.4% from the third quarter of 2011, the first decline since the economic recovery began in late 2009, according to Thomson Reuters. If earnings warnings to date are any indication, the decline may be worse.  

The World Bank cuts its outlook for China and East Asia. Spain is in focus at a European finance ministers meeting. Wal-Mart and American Express launch a prepaid card.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 8, 2012 9:09AM
Updated at 9:09 a.m. ET


By Andrea Tse 


Stock futures pointed to a lower open Monday, with investors wary about Asia's growth prospects and uncertain about Spain.


Traders were also uneasy as they kept an eye on a European finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg, where a potential financial aid request from Spain and the country's harsh 2013 budget plans were expected to be in focus Monday and Tuesday.

 

Stocks rally but retreat after the government says the unemployment rate falls to 7.8%, lowest since 2009. Apple, Zynga and Facebook lead a pullback. Crude oil falls below $90. Alcoa starts earnings season on Tuesday.

By Charley Blaine Oct 5, 2012 12:37PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 7:35 p.m. ET

Stocks gave up most of a rally today, but buying very late in the session pushed the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) to their best close in nearly five years.

The initial buying was set off when the Labor Department said the U.S. unemployment rate had dropped to 7.8% in September, its lowest level since 2009. September payrolls grew by 114,000, the department said, a touch below the consensus estimate of 120,000 jobs. But estimates for payroll growth in July and August grew by 86,000, suggesting that the summer slowdown wasn't as bad as thought.

The news of the falling unemployment rate cheered the White House, reeling from President Obama's performance in Wednesday's debate against Mitt Romney. It dismayed Republicans. "This is not what a real recovery looks like," Romney said in a statement. Former General Electric (GE) CEO Jack Welch went so far as to accuse the Labor Department of cooking the numbers. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said she was "insulted" by the idea.

The rally faded on its own, however. The pullback began when big technology stocks, such as Apple (AAPL), Amazon.com (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and Zynga (ZNGA), stumbled and accelerated on declines in energy and financial stocks.  

The S&P 500 is up for a 4th day in a row. Jobless claims aren't as bad as feared. Google hits a new intraday high; Apple comes back from early lows. Gold finishes at an 11-month high. Coal stocks jump.

By Charley Blaine Oct 4, 2012 12:19PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 6:48 p.m. ET

Stocks finished higher today, and the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) had their best day in about three weeks after initial jobless claims didn't rise as much as expected and investors were pleased the European Central Bank left its key interest rates alone.

And there was a large constituency that believed the market moved higher because of Republican Mitt Romney's performance in Wednesday's presidential debate.

Banks, energy (especially coal) and materials stocks were the market leaders. Bank of America (BAC) was up 30 cents to $9.41. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) had risen 96 cents to $41.82. Coal-producer Alpha Natural Resources (ANR), up 43 cents to $6.73, was the top performer in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX).

The technology sector, however, was the day's laggard, in part reflecting investors' adjusting to Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) gloomy outlook. HP managed to finish up 3 cents to $14.94 after falling to as low as $14.24 early in the day, its lowest intraday level since 2003. Apple (AAPL) was off $4.65 to $666.80. But Google (GOOG) hit a new intraday high of $769.89 before dropping back to $768.05 -- itself a new closing high. 

Stocks end higher, but Hewlett-Packard falls to a 10-year low as CEO Whitman warns of a 'fix-and-rebuild' year ahead. ADP says the private sector added 162,000 jobs in September. Low rates spur mortgage applications. Oil falls under $89.

By Charley Blaine Oct 3, 2012 12:37PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 11:32 p.m. ET

Stocks ended the day higher, but what had been a solid rally faded substantially as an earnings warning from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and disappointment with the terms of a cellphone merger dismayed investors.

Decent reports on the jobs market and the non-manufacturing economy had led the market to an early surge, along with a report showing an upswing in mortgage applications as borrowers sought to take advantage of low rates.

Futures trading suggests a solid rally on Thursday. Part of that gain may be some investor reaction to Mitt Romney's performance in tonight's debate with President Barack Obama. Earlier in the evening, futures had signaled a flat open.

Initial reactions were that Romney had the better night. On Intrade.com, trading by speculators on the outcome of the election, sold down Obama's odds to 67.7% from 74.5% on Tuesday and nearly 79% on Saturday.  

The Dow shows a small loss, but Apple shares reverse to end the day higher. Google slips. September auto sales are the best since 2008. Spanish premier Rajoy says a bailout request isn't 'imminent.' T-Mobile may buy MetroPCS.

By Charley Blaine Oct 2, 2012 12:55PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 8:35 p.m. ET

Stocks opened October with a nice rally. Today, on the second day of the month, the market finished basically unchanged after a rebound kicked in around 3 p.m. ET.

The rebound tracked a recovery in shares of Apple (AAPL), which had fallen to as low as $650.05 but recovered to $661.31, up $1.92.  The $650 level has emerged as a very important support level for Apple shares.

Apple's rebound helped the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) and the Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX) end the day with decent gains. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($NDX) also finished in the black. Also giving the market support: Auto sales ran at a seasonally adjusted 14.9 million units in September, the best sales rate since March 2008.

In addition, shares of MetroPCS Communications (PCS) finished up $2.05 to $13.57, tops among S&P 500 stocks, on reports that Deutsche Telekom's (DTEGY) T-Mobile USA was planning to acquire the mobile phone company, with a deal announced possibly on Wednesday. 

The Dow enjoys a 78-point gain, but the Nasdaq goes negative as Apple and Amazon.com slide. The Institute for Supply Management says manufacturing gained some momentum in September. Google's market capitalization moves past Microsoft's.

By Charley Blaine Oct 1, 2012 12:38PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 8:21 p.m. ET

October exploded out of the starting blocks, giving investors every expectation of a huge rally powered by a surprising gain in U.S. manufacturing and surging European markets.

But the rally faded into something more ambivalent. For that we can blame Apple (AAPL), Amazon.com (AMZN), Starbucks (SBUX) and Microsoft (MSFT), all of which fell 1% or more. (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)

The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) finished up more than 70 points, but roughly 30% of that gain was due to IBM (IBM), which hit an all-time high of $211.75 before closing at $210.47. But the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) saw a 31-point gain in the morning collapse into a small loss.

The pullback came as the dollar moved up against the euro, forcing commodity prices to give up gains. In addition, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke didn't surprise investors much in an Indianapolis speech, except to say he expected interest rates to remain low even after the economy strengthens. His overarching concern is to get the jobs market moving again. 

The blue chips break a 4-day losing streak as jobless claims fall. Gold and oil jump on Netanyahu's Iran warnings. Tech stocks rebound from Wednesday's losses. Research In Motion soars on earnings beat; Nike falls back as earnings slip.

By Charley Blaine Sep 27, 2012 12:33PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 7:39 p.m. ET

Stocks enjoyed a solid rally today, the first of the week, as U.S. jobless claims showed a surprisingly large decline and investors cheered Spain's budgetary plans.

While jobless claims fell, the Labor Department also reported that job gains for the year ended in March were larger than thought. But the government also reported a decline in durable-goods orders that was made worse by a big decline in commercial aircraft orders. In addition, a new measure of second-quarter growth showed the big 2012 drought was already weighing on the economy.

Homebuilding, energy and technology stocks were among the market leaders today, a day after all had pulled back. Gold (-GC) and crude oil (-CL) moved higher in part because of worries about an Iranian-Israeli war and as the dollar fell against the euro and the British pound. Energy stocks were higher.

After the close, Research In Motion (RIMM) shares jumped $1.56, or nearly 22%, to $8.70 after reporting one-time charges of 27 cents a share. Wall Street was looking for 19 cents. Revenue was $2.9 billion, up 2% from a year ago. Nike (NKE) shares were off $2.09 to $93.91 after hours. The company reported a 12% profit decline, although revenue was up 10% to $6.67 billion. Worldwide future orders were up 6% from a year ago, but Nike's gross profit margin fell to 43.5% from 44.3% a year ago. 

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