Stronger manufacturing report lifts stock market

An increase in regional manufacturing pushed the stock market to its third straight advance and offset concerns about lower sales at Wal-Mart.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 84 points, bringing its gains for the week to nearly 300 points. It’s the best streak for the Dow since November.

{loadposition in-article}

Stock futures turned lower after the closing bell Thursday when the Federal Reserve announced it was hiking the interest rate that it charges banks for emergency loans. The move doesn’t change consumer borrowing rates, but the notion that policymakers would start to reel in some of the emergency economic supports put in place since 2007 spooked investors.

The Fed’s decision to increase the interest rate on emergency loans by one-quarter point to 0.75 percent pushed the dollar higher. [Read the full article]

Layoffs aren’t slowing as fast as some analysts had expected. That was the message Thursday in a government report that the number of people filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week. Jobless claims rose by 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 473,000.

Further evidence that the pace of the economic recovery is slowing was a private research group’s forecast of economic activity. The Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators rose for a 10th straight month in January, but the rate of increase is easing. The index is designed to forecast activity in the next three to six months.

A third report said wholesale prices shot up at double the expected pace in January. But the surprising surge was viewed as a temporary blip and not a signal of sustained inflation.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., one of the recession’s biggest beneficiaries, felt the pinch during the fourth quarter as quarterly sales fell at U.S. [Read the full article]

WHAT DID THE MARKET LIKE: The Philadelphia Federal Reserve said its index of regional manufacturing rose more than analysts had expected in January.

WHAT ABOUT WALMART: The market’s gains were kept in check by a poor outlook from the nation’s largest retailer.

HOW DID THE MARKET REACT TO THE FED: The Federal Reserve announced after the close of trading that it was raising the rate it charges banks on emergency loans. That sent the dollar higher against other currencies, which can be a negative for stocks. [Read the full article]

Dell Inc. said Thursday its net income fell 6 percent in the last quarter despite early signs that businesses may be starting to buy new computers again.

Consumers snapped up low-cost laptops and smaller netbooks over the holidays, pushing Dell’s PC shipments up 29 percent. Those products are less lucrative, though, and Dell’s revenue and profit in the consumer PC division grew much more slowly. Dell’s profit margin was below expectations, and its shares fell about 5 percent in after-hours trading.

Revenue from businesses, which makes up about half of Dell’s total, grew 9 percent from last year. During a conference call, Dell’s chief financial officer, Brian Gladden, said many corporations were buying servers, a trend that also appeared in recent reports from Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp. But he added that companies were also starting to buy new laptops, a sign that corporate spending on technology might be coming out of its recession-induced slump. [Read the full article]

You may also like...