Stocks Push Higher Despite Gloomy Data


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages finished with mild gains Thursday up as an IBM ( IBM)-led rally in technology offset a weak batch of economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added nearly 35 points, or 0.27%, to close at 12,943. The blue-chip index, which has risen in four of the past five sessions, is now up 5.9% year-to-date.

IBM was the standout performer with a gain of nearly 4% to $195.34 after Big Blue eased past Wall Street's expectations for its latest quarter and lifted its earnings outlook. Because the Dow is price-weighted and IBM has the highest per share price in the index, the impact of its advance was considerable.

Other blue-chip winners included Boeing ( BA), Chevron ( CVX) and United Technologies ( UTX).

American Express ( AXP) was one of the Dow's biggest decliners, losing 3.5%, after the credit card company came in short of Wall Street's revenue expectations in its second quarter. Other blue chips in decline included AT&T ( T), Bank of America ( BAC), Verizon ( VZ), which also reported its quarterly numbers, and Wal-Mart Stores ( WMT).

The S&P 500 tacked on 4 points, or 0.27%, to settle at 1376.51, while the Nasdaq added more than 23 points, or 0.79%, at 2966.

Aside from technology, basic materials and consumer cyclicals were the strongest sectors in the broad market. Financials were weak.

The earnings headlines from tech heavyweights kept coming after Thursday's closing bell as both Google ( GOOG) and Microsoft ( MSFT) topped Wall Street's profit expectations with their quarterly reports but came in light on revenue.

Google reported non-GAAP earnings of $3.35 billion, or $10.12 a share, on revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs of $8.36 billion for the second quarter vs. the average analysts' estimate for a profit of $10.04 a share on revenue of $8.41 billion.

Thanks to strength in its server and tools business, Microsoft posted a non-GAAP profit of $6.93 billion, or 73 cents a share, for its fiscal fourth quarter. Revenue totaled $18.06 billion. The consensus was for earnings of 62 cents a share on revenue of $18.13 billion.

In other corporate news, Shares of Qualcomm ( QCOM) jumped 4.26% to $58.44 following its third-quarter report despite an earnings miss and lowered fourth-quarter guidance. The weaker outlook was attributed to a supply shortage rather than problems with customer demand, which the company said is robust.

After suffering through a botched initial public offering of Facebook ( FB) and a two-notch ratings downgrade, Morgan Stanley ( MS) reported a big earnings miss as revenue and earnings per share fell short of expectations. Shares fell 5.29% to $13.25.

eBay ( EBAY) on Wednesday reported quarterly earnings of 56 cents a share on revenue of $3.39 billion. Analysts were looking for profit of 55 cents a share on revenue of $3.41 billion. The online auctioneer saw huge growth in at its PayPal division, which saw revenue rise 26% year over year. Shares surged up 8.63% to $43.95.

The FTSE in London settled up 0.5% and the DAX in Germany closed ahead by 1.11% amid the cheer spread by consensus-topping corporate earnings reports and as the German Parliament approved a rescue package for Spain's deeply troubled banks by a large majority. The package is valued at up to €100 billion ($122 billion).

September crude oil futures rose $2.80 to settle at $92.97 a barrel, booking a seventh straight day of gains. August gold futures surged $9.60 to settle at $1,580.40 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 5/32, lifting the yield to 1.517%, while the greenback was off 0.12%, according to the dollar index.

The U.S. economic calendar on Thursday included weekly initial jobless claims, existing home sales, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's business outlook survey and the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators.

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