Bernanke Keeps the Stock Market Waiting for QE3

Strong earnings reports could only lift the stock market today up so much as U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would not give in to the cries for more stimulus.

Speaking to the Senate Banking Committee Bernanke gave his semi-annual monetary policy testimony and predicted slow growth for the U.S. economy. Bernanke said that reducing unemployment is going to be "frustratingly slow."

Bernanke repeated the Fed's mantra that if conditions deteriorate they will take appropriate measures when necessary. Some are beginning to wonder if QE3 will ever happen and how much worse things have to get before we see it.

The chairman did specify that if the labor market doesn't improve the central bank is prepared to act to boost growth.

Bernanke also commented that the looming "fiscal cliff" and the possibility that Europe's debt crisis will worsen remain significant risks.

He mentioned the Libor manipulation scandal and called the rate-setting system "structurally flawed." However he offered no explanation as to why the Fed didn't become more involved when it learned in 2008 that Barclays Plc (NYSE: BCS) was reporting false numbers.

Bernanke will speak again tomorrow morning before the House Financial Services Committee.

Earnings Factor in to Stock Market Today

Earnings season continues this week, and here is a recap of the major companies reporting today.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) reported better-than-expected earnings per share this morning but missed sales forecasts and cut its full-year outlook.

Citing a strengthening dollar as a factor in lower profits the New Brunswick, NJ-based healthcare company reported net income of $1.41 billion, or 50 cents a share, down from $2.78 billion, or $1 a share a year earlier.

"The dollar is now gaining strength against other currencies," company spokesman Al Wasilewski said

JNJ was hurt by irregular litigation and acquisition charges and its adjusted earnings per share was $1.30. Analysts had expected adjusted earnings per share of $1.29.

What investors will take away from the release is the fact that J&J lowered its 2012 profit forecast from $5.07 and $5.17 per share to $5.00 to $5.07. J &J derives 26% of its revenue from Europe and the debt crisis that has consumed the continent has taken an effect on the company.

JNJ was up 0.38% in afternoon trading.

The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) announced second-quarter earnings before the opening bell today.

For the quarter ended June 29 the company reported income of $2.79 billion, or $1.21 per share. The net income is down from $2.8 billion in the year-ago period but EPS increased from $1.20 due to fewer shares outstanding. Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.19 per share.

Coke said costs increases hurt profits, but noted that growth in emerging markets offset the effects from Europe.

Overall sales volume for the second quarter rose 4% from last year driven by sales in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific region.

"It looks like they had a good quarter in spite of the European woes. They continue to grow," Gary Bradshaw, portfolio manager at Hodges Capital Management in Dallas told Reuters. "I'm still extremely optimistic."

KO was up more than 2% in afternoon trading.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) report after today's closing bell.

The average estimate for Intel is EPS of $0.52 on revenue of $13.5 billion. Expectations have been lowered recently for Intel, especially after Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) lowered its guidance earlier this month.

Intel stock has been under pressure lately. If investors don't greet a weak earnings report too harshly that may be a positive sign for the stock.

Shares of Intel were up 0.22% ahead of earnings.

Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) is expected to report earnings per share of $0.23 on revenue of $1.1 billion.

Yahoo's second-quarter profits will be hurt by an anticipated charge of up to $145 million to cover severance costs for laying off 2,000 employees, or about 14% of its workforce.

The earnings release comes a day after Yahoo announced Marissa Mayer, former Google employee, as CEO. Mayer is a longtime Google veteran (the 20th employee hired) and Yahoo hopes she can help turnaround the struggling tech company.

Shares of YHOO were down 0.51 % in afternoon trading.

The Dow Jones today was up 84 points, or 0.66%, and the S&P 500 was up 9.14 points, or 0.68%, in afternoon trading.

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