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Stocks Rise After Indecisive Morning; Microsoft, Facebook Hit Record Highs | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

Buyers grew more confident at midday Thursday after stock indexes were indecisive in the first hours of trading.

X The Nasdaq composite added 0.2% after two major components, Microsoft (MSFT) and Facebook (FB), climbed following their earnings report late Wednesday. Both stock hit record highs.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4% and the Dow Jones industrial average 0.5%. Small caps lagged, with the Russell 2000 up just 0.1%. Volume was higher compared with the same time Wednesday.

There was strength in semiconductor, airline and fiber optics, while food-related industry groups were among the weakest. Air freight was another weak group after UPS (UPS) gapped down sharply below its 50-day moving average. The company beat quarterly expectations but saw higher costs from surprisingly high holiday volume.

Microsoft climbed 0.5% and is extended from its December breakout past 86.30. Microsoft beat views as it reported adjusted earnings per share of 96 cents, up 20% year over year, on sales of $28.9 billion, up 12%, for its fiscal second quarter ended Dec. 31.

Investors initially were rattled by a decline in Facebook users’ time spent on the site, but the stock recovered to new highs after executives addressed those issues. Facebook topped expectations as well. The stock is extended from a 184.35 buy point.

Qorvo (QRVO) broke out of a cup without handle base, gapping above the 81.30 buy point in tremendous volume. The chipmaker topped earnings expectations, posting EPS of $1.69. Profit growth accelerated from a 19% decline two quarters ago and an 18% increase in the September-ended quarter. Sales rose 2%, the first increase in three quarters.

Meritor (MTOR) leaped past the 28.06 buy point of a shallow cup without handle base. Volume was well above normal as the stock continued to rally from Wednesday’s earnings report. The maker of parts for commercial vehicles and heavy equipment blew past expectations with adjusted earnings of 62 cents a share, an increase of 148% from a year ago.

Pawn shop and lender EZcorp (EZPW) gapped above the 12.60 buy point of a flat base in huge volume. The company late Wednesday reported an earnings surge of 53% to 23 cents a share, well above estimates. Revenue rose 6% to $204.5 million. The Texas-based company cited expansion in Latin America and cost controls.

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