Dow up 35 as tech gains trump weak economy

Google and Microsoft shares rise on decent results. IBM and Qualcomm lead the market higher. Walgreen jumps; Morgan Stanley sags. Weak home resales and jobless claims disappoint. Oil jumps to its highest level since May.

By Charley Blaine Jul 19, 2012 12:38PM

Charley BlaineUpdated: 8:15 p.m. ET

Today's economic news was mediocre to just plain crummy, but the stock market still managed its third straight day of modest gains. The rally was built on gains in technology, energy and retail stocks. 

The stock market looks to get a boost on Friday from Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT), whose quarterly results cheered investors. Shares for both companies were higher after hours.

Google earned $10.10 a share, up 15% from a year ago and ahead of the Street estimate of $10.04 a share. Revenue was up 20.8% to $8.36 billion, a touch under the Wall Street estimate of $8.41 billion. The company does not issue guidance. Shares were up $17.19, or 2.9%, to $609.26 after hours. The regular close of $593.06 was up $12.30.

Microsoft, the publisher of MSN Money, earned 73 cents a share, excluding a $6.19 billion non-cash charge for writing off nearly all of its investment in aQuantive, an online advertising business. Including the write-off, Microsoft lost 6 cents a share, its first quarterly loss as a public company. The aQuantive write-off reduced earnings under generally accepted accounting by 73 cents a share. Revenue was up 4% to a record $18.06 billion. For the fiscal year, revenue was a record $73.7 billion. Microsoft was up 75 cents, or 2.5% to $31.42 after hours. Shares closed up 22 cents to $30.67 in regular trading.

The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) closed up 35 points to 12,943. The close was the best for the blue chips since July 3, with the index trading at levels last seen in early May. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) added 4 points to 1,377, its best close since May 3. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) climbed 23 points to 2,966, its best close since July 5.

Article continues below.

The Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX), dominated by Apple (AAPL), was up 30 points to 2,656. Apple was up $8.06 to $614.32. 

Energy shares moved up as crude oil (-CL) jumped more 3% in part because of worries that Syria's civil war may escalate Middle East tensions. 

At the same time, reports on jobless claims, June existing-home sales, leading economic indicators and manufacturing in the Philadelphia region were weaker than expected. The existing-home sales report was dismaying enough that Goldman Sachs cut its estimate for second-quarter growth from 1.2% to 1.1%.

Meanwhile, the spot price of corn (-ZC) briefly hit a record $8.1875 a bushel today as the summer drought continued to damage the current crop. Spot corn ended at $8.0775 a bushel. Corn for December delivery is up nearly 24% this month alone, and wheat is up 22%, as the nation's midsection suffers from the worst drought since the 1950s.

Crude oil settled up $2.79 to $92.66 a  barrel. Gold settled up $9.60 to $1,586.10 an ounce.

Interest rates were up slightly, with the 10-year Treasury yield at 1.515%, up from Thursday's 1.479%. The dollar was lower against major currencies.

The market got a brief boost when German lawmakers approved the latest European rescue, a $122 billion package of loans from the eurozone bailout fund to prop up Spanish banks on the verge of collapsing under the weight of soured property loans. The vote came after Spanish bond yields jumped as traders worried the country won't be able to find enough buyers for the debt it needs to sell.

Friday brings earnings from General Electric (GE), Manpower (MAN), Schlumberger (SLB) and Baker Hughes (BHI). Futures trading suggests stocks will open slightly lower.

Google's core business fuel profit
Google's second-quarter profit grew 11%, aided by continued growth in its core Internet search business, but advertiser payments per click kept falling.

The quarter was the company's first after it closed a $12.5 billion deal for Motorola Mobility Holdings in May. The new unit brought in $1.25 billion in revenue -- about 10% of Google's total -- with $843 million from the mobile segment and $407 million from the home segment.

Motorola's operating loss was $233 million, however, dragging down Google's operating margin to 26.2%. Without Motorola's negative 18.6% operating margin, Google's margin would have been 31.3%.

Microsoft expects big business in the fall
Microsoft's results were driven by strength in its Windows, servers & tools and Microsoft Business Division. The trio generated 85% of consolidated revenue and most of the operating profit.

The Windows division's revenue was down 12.6% from a year ago in part because customers are waiting for the availability of Windows 8 in October. Microsoft deferred $540 million in revenue from a $14.99 upgrade for Windows 8.

Had the deferral not occurred, Windows revenue was up 1%. That reflects the difficulties facing personal computer makers as many users embrace tablet devices.

The writedown for the aQuantive investment resulted in Microsoft's Online business reporting a $6.7 billion operating loss. Excluding the writedown, the loss was $266 million, down 64% from $745 million a year ago. Revenue for the online business was up 8% to $735 million.

In addition to the Windows 8 launch, Microsoft will launch new versions of Windows Server, Windows Phone and upgrades to Office that will include integration with Skype, as well as Microsoft’s recent acquisition of professional social-networking company Yammer.

Chipotle pays for missing Street estimates
All was not bullish after hours.

Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG  were down $42.86 to $363.64, or 10.6%, after finishing up $5.80 to $403.86. The restaurant chain earned $2.56 a share, up 61% from a year ago. But while revenue of $690.9 million was up 20.9%, revenue missed the Street estimate by $16 million.

Same-store sales were up 8% from a year ago; analysts had expected 10% growth. The company sees mid-single-digit earnings growth for the rest of the year.

IBM boosts tech stocks; financials are weak
IBM (IBM), eBay (EBAY) and Qualcomm (QCOM) were among the big tech leaders. Their gains were offset by declines in Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) and financial stocks, especially Morgan Stanley (MS), Bank of America (BAC) and American Express (AXP).

IBM was up $7.09 to $195.34, contributing nearly 54 points to the Dow by itself. Declines in Bank of America, American Express and Verizon Communications (VZ) subtracted 36 points from the Dow.

Walgreen (WAG), up $3.65 to $34.62, was the top S&P 500 performer after signing a new agreement to fill prescriptions from customers in the Express Scripts (ESRX) network. Express Scripts jumped $1.07 to $58.76.

Also moving higher after reporting strong or record earnings: Union Pacific (UNP) and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX). Materials stocks were the market leaders today.

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Economic reports offer snapshot of sputtering economy
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve said its business activity index was minus-12.9 from minus-6.6 in June. A reading below zero indicates contraction in the region's manufacturing.

"There is underlying softness in manufacturing. It probably understates the broader activity throughout the nation, but it still goes to show you that the weak trends are persisting,"  Sean Incremona, an economist at 4CAST, told Reuters.

The Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits rebounded 34,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000. A seasonal quirk -- caused when automakers didn't shut down for annual  retooling -- caused claims to drop 24,000 in the prior week.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 1,500 to 375,500 -- staying in the middle of the range it has held for much of 2012.

Existing-home sales dropped 5.4% to an annual rate of 4.37 million units last month, the National Association of Realtors said in a third report. However, the median sales price rose from last year, and there were fewer sales of distressed properties.

IBM rises on bullish guidance; Morgan Stanley slumps
IBM beat Street estimates for second-quarter results and boosted its full-year guidance. Its decadelong shift to higher-margin software sales helped the company overcome a slowdown in technology spending last quarter. IBM aims to get half of its earnings from software by 2015 -- a move away from less-profitable hardware and services.

EBay soared $3.49 to $43.95. CEO John Donahoe has increased spending on advertising and new technology to expand beyond EBay’s auction roots and let shoppers buy more items in instant sales, similar to those on's (AMZN) site. Those efforts led to gains in EBay’s Marketplaces unit as total U.S. online sales jumped 15% in the quarter, according to market-research firm ComScore.

Qualcomm increased $2.39 to $58.44. The largest seller of mobile-phone semiconductors gained after quarterly results showed consumers in emerging markets are trading up to next-generation handsets, lifting profitability.

Morgan Stanley
(MS) slumped 74 cents to $13.25. CEO James Gorman is trying to show improvements in profitability amid a slowdown in the investment-banking and trading businesses that account for half the firm’s revenue.

Verizon, the second-largest U.S. phone company, fell $1.35 to $44.54. Second-quarter net income attributable to Verizon rose to $4.29 billion, or 64 cents a share, from $3.6 billion, or 57 cents, a year earlier. That matched the average estimate of analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Sherwin-Williams (SHW) shares were up $4.78 to $132.43. The world's second-largest paint maker raised its guidance for the third quarter and the year, but the stock fell as much as 4% early in the session on worries that higher costs could trim the rosy outlook. The worries stemmed from a warning from AkzoNobel, the world's top paint maker, that costs for titanium dioxide, a key ingredient, and resins could be rising.

Short hits from the markets -- New York close



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Jul 19, 2012 3:28PM
Corn is a very poor producer of Fuel.  For example sugar cane yields 8 times by volume, and 18 times by acreage....  Corn is used in food, sugar, packaging, ethanol, and many other products.   It should not be subsidized to produce fuel by the government.  At these corn prices, ethanol is more expensive than gas to produce, even with massive subsidies.  

These subsidies should end.  The government should exit this business now.  It is just another failed green energy idea that could not survive without taxpayers picking up the tab.  When the subsidies are counted in, it is more expensive per gallon than gasoline.

Now if farmers want to plant other crops to generate ethanol, I am all for that.  Just not on the taxpayer dime.
Jul 19, 2012 2:11PM
Corn hitting an all time high because of the drought, yet we will continue to burn corn, "ethanol"  in our automobiles, at the expense of food!  This is an example of the "EPA"  gone wild.  For the sake of going green, let the people go hungry.
Jul 19, 2012 1:31PM
Another roller coaster ride!  Again, how can the small, individual investor hope to profitably "invest" in the stock market when it's being manipulated by Big Banks, High-Speed Computerized Trading, and Unethical Hedge Fund Managers using derivatives algorithms, and arbitrage?
Jul 19, 2012 1:37PM
Jul 19, 2012 1:25PM

another report another machine !  jobs down, housing up ? tech up where do you all get these reports???????  better find another source every other day they hiccup an issue false statements.

 Sounds like a politican !!!!! 

Jul 19, 2012 4:02PM
Well i guess wall street is looking for another socialist bailout from the FEDs ? Like a QE3 ? LOL This is not capitalism people ! This is pure socialism on wall street ! There is no risk any more ! The banks make bad investments ? OUR TAX money will be there to bailout wall street ! This market is a total joke ! They cheer housing starts with HUGE ammt of FORECLOSURES saturating the market!!!! LOL Ya that a real sound investing thought. ? LMFAO . The price of crude with the speculators jacking up the price for any reason besides supply and demand is the biggest joke of all ! WHY? Because stable energy prices will make unemployment go down by making costs stable for business costs ! What we have here folks is an OUT OF CONTROL wall street and banking system that is running with no sound investing principals at all ! About the only things banks are doing right is making people put 20% down for a mortgage today. Economies and companies cannot stable their costs with unstable energy prices.
Jul 19, 2012 2:00PM
Beware - the parasites are up to something..... It should go down at 3:00 and about twice as much tomorrow. They are still pissed off and seeking revenge about no free money from the Fed.
Jul 19, 2012 2:11PM
endeavor        i thought your messiah obama had the ability to make it rain
Jul 19, 2012 2:17PM
Morgan Stanley completely misses estimates - boo hoo - sod them after they screwed the markets - no wonder nobody wants to play with them anymore. If these institutions keep this up, pretty soon they'll all be on the street. The real workers will pick up the pieces, but will remain wary for a very long time. The institutions and the Fed along with foreign counterparts are all in bed together - these idiot CEOs pull massive salaries for themselves and their buddies and still can't return a profit. Absolute morons and the sooner they are strung up the better. Take them and the equally corrupt rating agencies and flush them.
Jul 19, 2012 6:04PM

I would hope that you, the American worker or someone who's looking for work, are collectively mad. The business structures of today have become increasingly violent towards ethical work practices. Every month we read about some company that was practicing illegally to increase profitability for themselves and their shareholders. If you have honesty and character, then you have credibility. Where is it today?


The politicians and CEO's that like to play in the devils vomit (sorry, trying to get my point across), vote them out and don't buy there product. Stand up and be counted. There are more good and caring people in this country than bad. Last I heard, the majority rules the minority. This madness has to come to an end for the well being of our countries future. Go vote in November please.

Jul 19, 2012 3:30PM
Hot air from Oblama causes global warming drought....   If only we could get him to shut up and go away....
Jul 19, 2012 3:47PM
It sucks that we live in a world that the powers to be think the American people a just plain idiots. They forget we are out here trying to survive in a world that they created by MANIPULATED BULL $HIT...............GO FIGURE!!!!!!!!!
Jul 19, 2012 2:14PM
dust bowl-depression        part 2
Jul 19, 2012 3:22PM
VL    Could you Authenticate your previous  post. I just googled percentage of corn for food and your numbers don't jive
 we export corn
Jul 19, 2012 3:48PM
4 + dollars  a gal  gas comming again just went up 12 cents  here in the last hour
Jul 19, 2012 6:20PM

i wish someone could answer my question,why is the price of oil going up plus the price of gas has gone up 20 cents,my answer is they are nothing but a bunch of greedy people that needs to be taken out and horsewhip


Jul 19, 2012 5:22PM
We were able to hang in there despite crappy economic news....For the umpteenth time, news do not move markets people do and today we had a bunch of peed off scumbags that did not get their way. We ended up, 3 days in a row and they can't stomach that. Once again, the markets have little to do with the economy and we are thankful for that...This economy under this community organizer is the worst one of our lifetimes and will not improve until we vote the socialist pos out of office this November. If not....God help us all.
Jul 19, 2012 5:40PM
                                           Romney              Obama
POLITICO                           47                             46
Gallup                                 46                              46
rassmussin                         47                             46
fox                                        45                              43
Cbs                                      47                              46
newsmax                            45                              43

INFO from  google search           OBAMA   ROMNEY POLL
I love the thumbs down on factual info         A man who lies to himself has no friends
Jul 19, 2012 4:51PM
MSN Homepage Headline:

"Dow overcomes economic news"

The more accurate headline:

Partnership among the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury, Obama, Geitner, and Bernanke continue to "pull the wool" over anyone still living in the fantasy world that thinks that the market is uncontrolled by powers that wish to make believe!

Jul 19, 2012 4:54PM
You might as well just let Rigged wall street go up 250 points a day it does not matter this economy is so fake..and will crash BIGGER than 2008 enjoy this false economy sheeple
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).

Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More


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