Markets were caught up in the earnings season over the past five days with some of the largest companies on Wall Street reporting on their recent quarters.
Solid tech earnings propelled the Nasdaq higher, helping the index close out Friday's session at a new record. Since Monday, Oct. 23, the tech-heavy index has increased 1.09%, its best gain in three weeks.
The S&P 500 rose 0.23% since Monday morning, also reaching a new record on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.45% higher.
This week marked the S&P 500 and Dow's seventh in the green.
Tech, Tech and More Tech
This week was the biggest of the earnings season with more than one-third of the S&P 500 opening up their books on the quarter. Technology earnings were among the most closely watched in the past few days and, for the most part, the largest industry players beat estimates.
A softening U.S. dollar should take some of the credit for better-than-expected earnings in tech, Polaris Greystone's Jeffrey Powell told TheStreet.
"Sixty percent of the tech sector is international sales," Powell said in a call. "When you're pulling earnings from abroad, at least abroad for us, then having a strong dollar makes your products more expensive and makes them less competitive. It makes it harder to sell them."
Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) - Get Report smashed Wall Street's third-quarter earnings expectations. The Google parent reported third-quarter net income of $6.73 billion, or $9.57 a share, coasting past analyst estimates of $8.31. Revenue surged 23% year over year to $27.7 billion, higher than the $27.2 billion analysts were expecting.
Traffic acquisition costs, or what Google pays to get ads in front of mobile users, spiked 54% during the quarter but Wall Street didn't seem too concerned since Google's overall ad business continues to grow.
Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) - Get Report beat third-quarter estimates on the top- and bottom-lines and issued better-than-expected guidance for the fourth quarter. Adjusted earnings in the quarter were 52 cents a share, trouncing consensus estimates of 3 cents. Revenue climbed 34% from a year earlier to $43.7 billion and beat analyst estimates of $41.5 billion.
The company provided upbeat guidance for its seasonally big fourth quarter, saying it expects revenue to come in between $56 billion and $60 billion, higher than consensus estimates of $54.2 billion.
Amazon's cloud computing product, Amazon Web Services, saw sales jump 42% annually to $4.6 billion, above forecasts of $4.51 billion. Amazon's international e-commerce reporting segment saw revenue rise 29% to $13.7 billion, a big improvement from the 17% growth in the second quarter.
Intel Corp. (INTC) - Get Report posted a double-digit increase in profit thanks to strong demand for personal computer and server chips. Profit rose to $4.52 billion from $3.38 billion a year earlier. Revenue gained 2% to $16.1 billion. For the full year, the company anticipates earnings of $3.25 a share and sales of $62 billion, higher than its previous target of $3 a share and $61.3 billion.
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) - Get Report also topped profit and sales estimates over its fiscal first quarter. Earnings of 84 cents a share beat estimates by 12 cents. Net income rose by 16%. Revenue climbed nearly 12% to $24.54 billion, coming in $980 million higher than anticipated. By segment, sales in its productivity and business processes unit, which includes Office products, rose by 28%, while its intelligent cloud business increased 14%.
Twitter Inc. (TWTR) - Get Report added new subscribers and reached "record profitability," according to a statement. The social media platform reported a loss of 3 cents a share, one-fifth of the loss a year earlier. Analysts expected a loss of 11 cents a share. Adjusted earnings of 10 cents a share came in 4 cents higher than expected. Revenue dipped 4% to $590 million. Daily average users increased 14% in the third quarter, up from 12% in the second quarter. However, Twitter did warn that it had been mis-counting its average users since 2014.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) - Get Reportswung to a profit of 7 cents a share in its third quarter from a loss of 50 cents in the same quarter a year earlier. AMD reported adjusted earnings of 10 cents a share on revenue of $1.64 billion. Analysts were expecting adjusted earnings of 8 cents on revenue of $1.51 million.
The chipmaker also guided for a decline in fourth-quarter revenue. The chipmaker said it expects revenue to decline about 15% sequentially in the fourth quarter, plus or minus 3%.
- AMD's Guidance Wasn't Terrible, but Is a Sign of Stiff Competition
- AMD Is Paying the Price for Not Delivering 'Near Perfect' Earnings
So far, nearly 74% of S&P 500 companies have exceeded earnings estimates this quarter, according to Thomson Reuters estimates. That comes in above the historical beat average of 64%. Nearly 67% of companies have topped revenue expectations.
Crude Oil Ends at Highest in Months
A Friday rally pushed crude oil to its best close since late February. Over the session, West Texas Intermediate added more than 2% to settle at $53.90 a barrel, its highest close since late February.
Analysts pegged the gains on returning optimism over the outcome of a meeting among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries at the end of November. OPEC members will meet in Vienna on Nov. 30 in what investors hope results in a deal to extend a production cut agreement.
The number of active oil rigs in the U.S. rose in the past week, its first increase in a month. Active rigs drilling for oil increased by one to 737, according to Baker Hughes data, while the total number of rigs dropped by four to 909.
A number of refineries in the Texas and Louisiana region were shuttered in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in early September, but have since slowly come back online.
A weekly reading on U.S. inventories showed a surprise rise. The Energy Information Administration reported that crude supplies increased by 900,000 barrels in the week ended Oct. 20, compared to an expected decrease of 425,000 barrels.
A Reading on Economic Growth
The U.S. economy rose at a growth rate of 3% over the third quarter, according to a preliminary reading of GDP out on Friday. That pace slowed slightly from a 3.1% rate in the second quarter. The figure, however, came in faster than an expected 2.5% growth rate from July to September. Consensus showed a broad range heading into the report with economists divided on how large an impact a series of hurricanes on the south and southeastern continental U.S. and Puerto Rico might have had. Consumer spending increased 2.4%.
"Many on the street are no doubt applauding today's GDP report as a blowout win," Mike Loewengart, VP of investment strategy at E*TRADE, wrote in a note. "Given these numbers are coming on the heels of catastrophic hurricanes, it appears-by early measures-that the economy fared more than okay against a hostile economic adversary."
In other economic news this week, consumer sentiment in October settled at its best level in 13 years. The final reading of the University of Michigan's index came in at 100.7, slightly below an initial estimate of 101.1. September showed a reading of 95.7.
Durable goods orders rose at double the pace expected in September. Orders for long-lasting goods in the U.S. increased by 2.2%, according to the Census Bureau, far better than an expected 1% rise. Excluding transportation, orders climbed by 0.7%. Core capital goods orders rose 1.3%. Orders increased 1.7% in August.
New home sales in the U.S. rose to a seasonally adjusted pace of 667,000 in September, a ten-year high, according to the Commerce Department. That was far higher than consensus of 555,000. August's number was revised to 561,000 from 560,000.
Calm Waters for Markets
Markets have managed to hit new heights recently with little volatility. The Volatility Index, otherwise known as the fear index, remained around 10 on Friday, Oct. 27 after hitting its lowest level ever on July 21 this year.
"I feel like a broken record, but so many times when I'm talking about 2017, I usually say 'the last time since 1964, 1965, or 1995' when making comparisons to 2017," said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Research. "Those three years are widely considered the least volatile years ever, and 2017 is right there with them trying to make the medal stand."
LPL Research noted that the S&P 500 has not seen a daily drop of more than 0.5% in 33 straight sessions, its longest streak since 1995. So far this year, the index has fallen by 1% or more only four times, its fewest since 1964. Low volatility is in part tied to strong earnings, though LPL Research does expect an eventual return to normal volatility with the possibility of a correction as the "economic cycle continues to age."
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