Here Are Three Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average  gains for fifth straight session.
  • Morgan Stanley (MS)  rose 2.8% after second-quarter earnings smashed analysts' estimates.
  • Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) Google was fined $5 billion by European authorities for Android antitrust violations.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks ended mostly higher on Wednesday, July 18, following an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and after Morgan Stanley's  (MS)  second-quarter earnings topped Wall Street forecasts.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified in front of Congress for the second time in as many days Wednesday, telling the House Committee on Financial Services that open trade is good for the economy in general, while also declining to call the current dispute with China a trade war. 

Powell has had strong words for cryptocurrencies, saying that digital currencies do not satisfy the basic tenets of traditional currencies: acting as a store for value and a means of payment. Powell also said that the Federal Reserve probably shouldn't be the body to regulate cryptos. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average  rose 0.3% to 25,199, the S&P 500  rose 0.22% and the Nasdaq   fell 0.01%.

"With appropriate monetary policy, the job market will remain strong and inflation will stay near 2% over the next several years," Powell said on Tuesday, July 17, in his first of two days of testimony on Capitol Hill.

Powell's comments helped boost both short-term Treasury bond yields and the U.S. dollar, as investors reset expectations for near-term rate hikes, but continued to fret over the longer-term effect on global economic growth from trade wars currently being waged by the U.S., its allies and competitors.

Powell didn't go into much detail on the effect of trade wars on economic growth, saying only that countries with fewer tariff barriers tend to expand faster. 

Morgan Stanley (MS)  rose 2.6% after the Wall Street firm earned $1.30 a share in the second quarter, beating estimates of $1.11.

Textron Inc. (TXT - Get Report) shares were slightly lower on Wednesday, July 18, after reporting better-than-expected second-quarter results and raising its full-year earnings guidance.

The Providence, R.I.-based aerospace and defense company reported earnings of 87 cents per share on revenue of $3.73 billion, which topped analysts' expectations of earnings of 70 cents per share on revenue of $3.52 billion, according to FactSet.

Abbott Laboratories (ABT) earned 73 cents a share on an adjusted basis in the second quarter, beating forecasts by 2 cents. Shares rose 3%. 

Earnings are expected later Wednesday from eBay Inc. (EBAY) , American Express Co. (AXP)  and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)  .

Abbott Labs is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stock? Learn more now.

Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) Google was fined a record $5 billion from European antitrust authorities Wednesday, following a lengthy investigation into contracts that tie makers of android-operated smartphones to the exclusive sale of Google's apps.

Alphabet shares rose 0.2%.

Alphabet is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells GOOGL? Learn more now.

Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN) CEO Brian Crutcher resigned his posts as CEO, president and board member after violating the company's code of conduct with his personal actions, the Dallas-based company best known for its graphing calculators announced on Tuesday.

Crutcher began his stint as CEO on June 1. Chairman Richard Templeton will resume the added roles of CEO and president "on an ongoing, indefinite basis," the company said.

Shares fell 0.3%. 

United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL)  rose 9% after the airline reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings.

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