Here Are 4 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Thursday's session in the red thanks to declines in Visa Inc. (V - Get Report) , DowDuPont Inc. (DWDP - Get Report)  and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT - Get Report) .
  • General Electric Co. (GE - Get Report) posted weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but saw sales rise solidly, lifting the stock 11.43% on Thursday.
  • Facebook Inc. (FB - Get Report)  surged 10.8% Thursday after the social media giant posted a record fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts' expectations
  • Microsoft declined 1.83% after the software giant's fiscal second-quarter revenue missed analysts' estimates despite strong gains from its cloud computing segment.

Wall Street Overview

The major indices had their best monthly performance in years as markets look to claw back from a dismal end to 2018. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had its best monthly performance since March 2016, rising 7% during the year's first month, while the S&P 500 had its best January performance since 1989. 

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that weakening global growth, along with the lack of U.S. inflationary pressures, meant the central bank was able to "be patient" in its assessment of the need for further policy tightening, while he and his colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee removed a reference to "further gradual hikes" later this year in the official statement published Wednesday.

"We are now facing a somewhat contradictory picture of generally strong U.S. macroeconomic performance alongside growing evidence of cross-currents," Powell told reporters in Washington after the Fed held steady on interest rates. "Common sense risk management suggests patiently waiting greater clarity."

The dovish tilt marked a significant change to the bank's stance it stressed only six weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that trade talks with China were going well but that "no final deal will be made until my friend President Xi, and I, meet in the near future to discuss and agree on some of the long standing and more difficult points."

Chinese Vice Premier Liu was set to meet with Trump following meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 15 points, or 0.06%, to 25,000, the S&P 500 rose 0.86%, and the Nasdaq gained 1.37%.

General Electric Co. (GE - Get Report) posted weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but saw sales rise solidly, lifting the stock 11.43% on Thursday.

General Electric said adjusted earnings were 17 cents per share, below analysts' estimates of 22 cents. Revenue rose 5% to $33.28 billion, firmly ahead of the consensus forecast of $32.6 billion. GE also said it was able to retain or generate around $10 billion in cash over the quarter thanks to its dividend cut and the sale of parts of its stake in oil services group Baker Hughes.

Facebook Inc. (FB - Get Report) surged 10.82% Thursday after the social media giant posted a record fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts' expectations and held onto users despite a wave of negative headline and privacy concerns.

Earnings in the quarter were $6.88 billion, or $2.38 a share, rising from $4.27 billion, or $1.44 a share, a year earlier. Revenue of $16.64 billion rose from $12.97 billion in the year-earlier quarter. Analysts were looking for earnings of $2.18 a share on revenue of $16.39 billion.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT - Get Report) fell 1.83% after the software giant's fiscal second-quarter revenue missed analysts' estimates despite strong gains from its cloud computing segment.

Microsoft reported fiscal second-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.10 a share, 1 cent better than analysts' expectations. But revenue of $32.47 billion fell just short of Wall Street's estimates of $32.51 billion. Cloud computing generated $9.38 billion in revenue for the company, a 20% year-over-year increase. 

Intel Corp. (INTC - Get Report)  declined 0.88% after naming interim CEO Robert Swan as the chipmaker's permanent chief. 

Swan, 58, has served as the company's interim CEO for seven months. He has been Intel's chief financial officer since 2016. Swan ascended to the top of the chipmaker's hierarchy after former CEO Brian Krzanich resigned in June 2018.

DowDuPont Inc. (DWDP - Get Report) reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 88 cents a share, beating forecasts by 1 cents, but revenue of $20.1 was flat with last year and came in just shy of Wall Street forecasts amid a decline in sales at the company's materials science division. The stock declined 9.23%.

Visa Inc. (V - Get Report) was down 1.9% after the company announced better-than-expected earnings and revenue but low payments volume growth.

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN - Get Report)  fell afterhours in spite beating analysts' top- and bottom-line expectations after the company provided weak first-quarter guidance.

Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and DowDuPont are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells the stocks? Learn more now.

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