Stocks Rise After Earnings, Data, ECB Comments

Jeremy Glaser

U.S. Market
Stocks rose this morning after central bank comments, data and earnings.

Initial unemployment claims fell a slightly larger-than-expected 20,000 to 331,000 last week. The less volatile four-week moving average was up by 250 claims to 334,000. The report comes ahead of tomorrow’s closey-watched payroll and unemployment rate report.

Both the European Central Bank and Bank of England left key interest rates unchanged today. ECB head Mario Draghi said in a press conference that the bank is still ready to take more action if needed but that he does not see deflation as a threat for the eurozone.

At midday the Dow and S&P 500 were each up 1% while the Nasdaq was 1.1% higher.

Stocks on the Move
Twitter's (TWTR) first quarterly earnings report as a public company showed strong growth in advertising revenue, though continued deceleration in user growth, and surprisingly weaker engagement metrics spooked investors. Total company revenue grew 116% to $243 million, with more than 90% coming from a direct sale of advertising products. For the first time in the company's existence, Twitter posted positive operating income after backing out the impact of stock options. Shares were down more than 20% at midday.

General Motors (GM) said its fourth-quarter profit fell 13%. Results were hurt by poor performance outside of North America and China. Results were well below analyst expectations. Shares were slightly higher on the news.

Shares of Walt Disney (DIS) gained 5% after the firm posted solid gains in its fiscal first quarter. Consolidated revenue rose 9% to $12.3 billion while operating profit jumped 27% as each of Disney's segments posted top-line gains in the quarter. Cable network sales ticked up 6% while parks and resorts revenue grew 6% year over year, despite a difficult comparison. On the studio front, which is the most choppy and arguably unpredictable of Disney's segments, the firm posted a 23% increase in revenue, driven by the theatrical release of Frozen ($870 million to date, without a formal launch in either China or Japan) and the second installment of the Thor franchise.

Exelon (EXC) reported operating earnings of $2.50 per share for 2013, in line with management's guidance and our expectations. Consolidated earnings fell 12% from 2012 primarily due to a 22% drop in earnings at Exelon Generation. Low power prices and wholesale generation margins continue to weigh on results even as earnings at Exelon's regulated utilities rose 24% in 2013. Shares were up 1.8% on thre report.

Foreign Markets
European shares were higher after central bank moves. In late trading, the FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX were each up 1.5% while the Paris CAC was 1.7% higher.

Asian markets were mixed with the Nikkei 225 falling 0.2% and the Hang Seng gaining 0.7% on the day.