Stocks rise on good company earnings

Stocks closed higher Wednesday, led by Boeing. Stocks are facing their first big challenge of the year as companies start to report earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012.

Seth Wenig/AP/File
In this December 2012 file photo, a trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange. Boeing was the biggest gainer of the 30 stocks in the Dow Wednesday.

Stocks rose on Wall Street Wednesday after U.S. corporate earnings reports got off to a good start.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 61.66 points to 13,390.51, its first gain of the week. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 3.87 points to 1,461.02, and the Nasdaq composite rose 14 to 3,105.81.

Having rallied after a last-minute resolution stopped the U.S. from going over the "fiscal cliff," stocks are facing their first big challenge of the year as companies start to report earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012. Throughout last year, analysts cut their outlook for earnings growth in the period and now expect them to rise by 3.21 percent, according to data from S&P Capital IQ.

"Maybe earnings expectations were a little too low," said Ryan Detrick, a strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "You don't need to have great earnings, you just need to beat those expectations" for stocks to rally, Detrick said.

Early indications were decent. Aluminum maker Alcoa reported late Tuesday that it swung to a profit for the fourth quarter, with earnings that met Wall Street's expectations. The company brought in more revenue than analysts had expected, and the company also predicted rising demand for aluminum this year as the aerospace industry gains strength. Alcoa is usually the first Dow component to report earnings every quarter.

Despite the better revenue number, Alcoa's stock performance Wednesday was lackluster. It traded higher for part of the day then ended down 2 cents at $9.08.

Other companies fared better after reporting earnings. Helen of Troy, which sells personal care products under brands including Dr. Scholl's and Vidal Sassoon, rose 2.7 percent, up 90 cents to $34.43 after reporting a 15 percent increase in quarterly net income.

Boeing was the biggest gainer of the 30 stocks in the Dow. It jumped 3.5 percent, up $2.63 to $76.76, following two days of sharp declines triggered by new problems for its 787 Dreamliner. Boeing said it has "extreme confidence" in the plane even as federal investigators try to determine the cause of a fire Monday aboard an empty Japan Airlines plane in Boston and a fuel leak at another JAL 787 on Tuesday.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 1.86 percent from 1.87 percent.

Among other stocks making big moves:

— Wireless network operator Clearwire jumped 7.2 percent, or 21 cents, to $3.13, after Dish network made an unsolicited offer to buy the company, which has already agreed to sell itself to Sprint. Dish rose 88 cents to $36.85, and Sprint fell 9 cents to $5.88.

— Online education company Apollo Group plunged 7.8 percent after reporting a sharp decline in fall-term student sign-ups at the University of Phoenix. The stock fell $1.63 to $19.32.

Seagate Technology, a maker of hard-disk drives, jumped 6.6 percent, up $2.09 to $33.48, after predicting revenue for its fiscal second quarter that topped Wall Street expectations late Tuesday.

Bank of America fell 4.6 percent, down 55 cents to $11.43, after Credit Suisse analysts lowered their outlook on the bank to "neutral" for "outperform," saying the current stock price overestimates the improvement in cost reduction that the bank can achieve this year.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.