Stocks in New York moved modestly higher Tuesday -- not due to earnings, but thanks to remarks from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who indicated that most banks have sufficient capital to weather the financial downturn. Geithner's positive words pushed money center banks including Bank of America ( BAC), Citigroup ( C) and JP Morgan Chase ( JPM) onto the list of the most-searched stocks on TheStreet.com.
Despite Geithner's shot of confidence, investors have skittishly traded bank shares ahead of the results of the government's so-called stress tests on the health of the biggest 19 banks in the nation. The tests, which consider how the banks would fare during certain economic scenarios, are meant to determine how much capital support would be needed to assure stability. Ahead of the open, investors got quarterly figures from heavily searched stocks Caterpillar ( CAT), Coca-Cola ( KO), Merck ( MRK), DuPont ( DD) and United Technologies ( UTX). Caterpillar strolled past estimates on an adjusted basis, but otherwise swung to its first quarterly loss in 17 years when factoring in a layoff-related charge. The company also reduced its revenue outlook for 2009. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola reported a 3% decline in first-quarter sales, slightly missing analyst expectations. The world's largest beverage maker said profit fell 10% on restructuring charges and writedowns, but it was in line with expectations. Drugmaker Merck fell short of Wall Street's profit expectations as it weathered an 8% decrease in worldwide sales. The company also reined in its full-year estimate in light of charges related to its merger with Schering-Plough ( SGP), but it did say the merger is "progressing as planned."
DuPont jumped onto the most-searched stock list after it reported that quarterly profit fell 59% but was still better than expected. The company scaled back its full-year guidance but also said it plans to increase its efforts to cut fixed costs by $1 billion, up from $730 million.
Meanwhile diversified manufacturer United Technologies reported a 28% drop in first-quarter profit as a slumping economy crimped demand for its jet engines and air conditioners. IBM ( IBM) reported a first-quarter profit late Monday that was slightly better than expectations, but sales were light. IBM dropped its bid for Sun Microsystems ( JAVA), which eventually went to Oracle ( ORCL). All three were heavily typed tickers on TheStreet.com's stock search.