After a two-day slump, the Dow Jones Industrial Average battled back today to finish the week at 14,000 even, propelled by a report showing that German business confidence improved sharply this month. On the day, the Dow climbed 120 points, or 0.9%. The market may also believe that stocks were oversold after the two-day drop following the Fed's musings that its bond-buying program may end. Yesterday's reports showing initial unemployment claims are still high, and inflation essentially flat in the consumer price index, may dissuade the Fed from pulling back from its quantitative easing policy.
Hewlett-Packard was another reason the Dow soared, as shares jumped 12%. The haggard PC-maker delivered profits below Wall Street expectations, but beat estimates on the top line, even as sales fell nearly 6%. Management also guided the current quarter above estimates, saying it expected EPS of $0.80-$0.82, better than analyst projections of $0.77. CEO Meg Whitman was optimistic about HP's future, saying the turnaround is taking hold, and the company will begin allocating more resources toward mobile technology and away from PCs. With a 2013 P/E of six, shares were bound to bounce on any positive news.
Coca-Cola shares also finished stronger today, gaining 2.2%, after announcing it would raise its dividend 10% yesterday. The payout hike brings the annual dividend to $1.12, or a yield of 3%.
Meanwhile, UnitedHealth was the only Dow stock to finish down more than 1%, falling 1.4%, amid increasing concerns that the Affordable Care Act could put a dent in profits. No specific news came out today, but investors seemed concerned that new policies will restrict premium increases as well as payouts from Medicaid and Medicare.
Finally, Boeing shares rose with the Dow, up 0.9%, on the day it met with Federal Aviation Administration officials to discuss the battery fires in its Dreamliner jet. Boeing called the meeting productive, while the FAA said the 787 would not be allowed to fly until the battery problems were resolved. Boeing is still working to determine the cause of the fires, which have caused all 50 Dreamliner 787s to be grounded.
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