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U.S. stocks are trying to hold onto gains today (Wednesday) after another round of earnings reports and testimony by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Bernanke spoke before the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday and did not diverge from his non-committal message a day earlier on whether or not the Fed would provide more stimulus.
Economic reports today include housing starts for June, which rose 6.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000 units, the highest level since October 2008. Thanks to record low interest rates, applications for mortgages rose last week as many homeowners try to refinance.
But, it was not all good news from the Commerce Department as new permits for building homes dropped 3.7% in June to a 755,000 unit pace.
Stock Market Today: Earnings in Control
Earnings season is now in full swing and there have been mixed results, but for the most part expectations have been beat.
Intel Corp. ( Nasdaq: INTC) reported earnings after yesterday's close that beat market expectations even as it fell from a year earlier.
Intel posted net income of $2.8 billion and earnings per share of $0.54, ahead of analysts' earnings per share forecast of $0.52. Revenue rose as well but the company warned of lower growth for the third quarter due to lower PC sales.
The company does expect a strong fourth quarter and to finish the year strong. It will be helped by the fact that it does not rely heavily on PC sales compared to its competitors.
Intel was up over 3.4% in early trading.
Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) announced second quarter profits of $2.46 billion, or $0.19 a share. This topped analysts' EPS expectations of $0.15.
The Charlotte, NC-based financial giant saw an increase in lending and lowered expenses as a main reason for its return to profitability. The company last year took a $0.90 loss in the second quarter due to writing off mortgages stemming from the bank's takeover of Countrywide.
CEO Brian Moynihan initiated "Project New BAC" with the aim of cutting costs and so far it has been successful and garnered some positive reviews.
"Brian has been doing exactly the things in terms of correcting problems for the past, exactly what I would be doing," Warren Buffett told Bloomberg News last week.
"He's done a terrific job. He's gotten rid of one thing after another that was a problem. And he's getting it back to basic banking."
Yet the stock is down today as investors worry about future growth for the company amid record low interest rates, legal issues, and the fact that Bank of America is now fourth in U.S. home loans.
BAC was down 2.4% as of noon.
Honeywell International Inc. (NSYE: HON) Wednesday reported strong earnings, citing growth in its aerospace and chemicals divisions. Second-quarter net income rose to $905 million, or $1.14 a share, from $810 million, or $1.02 a share, a year ago. This beat analysts' average estimate of $1.11 a share.
Honeywell said it positioned itself well to avoid losses from Europe and expected declines from overseas. It raised the low end of its full-year earnings guidance by 5 cents from $4.50 to $4.55 a share compared with $4.35 to $4.55 projected in April.
Aerospace, the company's second-largest division behind its automaton and controls segment, saw sales increase 7.7%
"We continue to see good growth in the commercial businesses partially offset by manageable declines in defense," Chief Financial Officer David Anderson said in a statement.
Honeywell is surging today up more than 6.8%, its biggest intraday gain since June 2010.
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) reports after today's closing bell and the consensus estimate is EPS of $3.42 on $26.28 billion of revenue.
IBM stock has climbed up almost 2% today ahead of earnings.
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