Better-than-expected earnings from Hewlett-Packard along with a couple of encouraging domestic reports guided benchmarks higher on Wednesday. Initial claims numbers and the Michigan consumer sentiment report boosted investor confidence. Meanwhile, manufacturing activity in Chicago declined in November from the previous month but came in above market expectations. The technology sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups while energy stocks lost the most.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.2% to close the day at 16,097.33. The S&P 500 added 0.3% to finish Wednesday’s trading session at 1,807.23. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index increased 0.7% to end at 4,044.75. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) advanced 1.3% to settle at 12.98. Total volume on the NYSE was 2.6 billion shares. Advancing stocks outnumbered the decliners. For 60% shares that advanced, 37% declined.
Better-than-expected fiscal fourth quarter earnings from Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) was largely responsible for boosting investor sentiment on Wednesday. Both earnings and revenue came in above expectations. Excluding items, the company reported earnings per share of $1.01, down from the year ago figure of $1.16 a share. However, this was above the Street’s expectations of $1per share. What was most encouraging was the revenue numbers, which came in at $29.13 billion, beating the Street’s expectations of $27.91 billion. The company’s shares jumped nearly 9% after the announcement of quarterly numbers.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported initial claims numbers. According to the report, initial claims fell 10,000 to 316,000 from previous week’s revised figure of 326,000. This was considerably below the consensus estimate of 328,000. The four week’s moving average decreased 7,500 to 331,750 from previous week’s revised average of 339,250. This was one of the positive reports for the day which helped stocks move upwards.
Among encouraging reports, consumer confidence increased to 75.1in November from October’s figure of 73.2 according to the Thomson Reuters/ University of Michigan. This was above the consensus estimate of 73.2. The consumer confidence index had an average of 89 for five consecutive years before December 2007, and 64.2 in the 18-month recession that followed afterwards.
According to the Institute of Supply Management, the Chicago purchasing managers’ index fell to 63 in November from previous month’s figure of 65.9. This was above the consensus estimate of 59.9. It is also below October’s figure of 65.9.
The durable goods report from the U.S. Department of Commerce was the only disappointing piece of news. New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased 2.0% to $230.3 billion. This decrease was higher than the consensus estimate of 1.7%. Shipments of manufactured durable goods in October increased 0.2% to $233.2 billion. Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods in October increased 0.3% to $1,045.4 billion. Inventories of manufactured durable goods in October increased 0.3% to $383.3 billion. Meanwhile, non-defense new orders for capital goods in October decreased 3.9% to $77.9 billion.
Also, the oil prices declined to their lowest in the past six months after the U.S. government reported the tenth time weekly increase in crude supplies. U.S. oil prices decreased 2% to $92.30 per barrel after the announcement.
Subsequently, energy stocks dropped the most among the S&P 500 industry groups and the Energy SPDR (XLE) lost 0.7%. Stocks such as Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Schlumberger Limited. (NYSE:SLB), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY), and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) declined 0.5%, 0.3%, 1.7%, 2.5%, and 0.4%, respectively.
The technology sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups on Wednesday. The Technology SPDR (XLK) gained 0.8%. Stocks such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) added 2.4%, 0.4%, 0.7%, 0.4%, and 0.9%, respectively.