Dow Average Hits Six-Year High on Earnings News

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose to a six-year high on Thursday, thanks to a rise in General Motors (GM) after the auto maker posted a narrower loss. Other companies reported solid quarterly results, including Apple Computer (AAPL), Nokia (NOK), and Merck (MRK). However, profit taking hurt energy and crushed commodity futures, which spilled into shares of companies in these industries, says Standard & Poor's Equity Research.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 64.12 points, or 0.57%, to 11,342.89. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 1.53 points, or 0.12%, to 1,311.46. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite lost 8.33 points, or 0.35%, to 2,362.55.

After the market close, Google (GOOG) posted earnings per share of $2.29 excluding stock option expenses, beating the estimate of $1.97 a share. Revenue shot up 79% from a year ago to $2.25 billion. The stock was up in after-hours trading.

Intel (INTC) reported first-quarter earnings per share of 23 cents (including stock compensation expense), vs. 35 cents a year ago, on a 5% revenue decline. The chip giant lowered its outlook. It sees $8-$8.6 billion second-quarter revenue, about 49% gross margin; about 3% lower 2006 revenue. S&P downgraded the stock to sell from hold.

Apple Computer posted second-quarter EPS of 47 cents, vs. 34 cents, on a 35% revenue rise. It sees 39-43 cents third-quarter EPS on $4.2-$4.4 billion in sales.

Nokia (NOK) posted first quarter EPS of €0.25, vs. €0.19, on a 29% sales rise. The cell phone maker says its first-quarter device market share of 35% was up 1% sequentially and rose 3% from a year ago, based on preliminary market estimates.

On the downside was eBay (EBAY) after the company posted first-quarter EPS of 17 cents, vs. 19 cents (GAAP), despite a 36% revenue rise. The online auction outfit sees 14-16 cents second-quarter GAAP EPS on revenue of $1.37-$1.415 billion, and 65-71 cents 2006 GAAP EPS on revenue of $5.7-$5.9 billion.

General Motors (GM) posted 57 cents first-quarter loss per share, vs. $2.22 loss, on 14% revenue rise. The auto maker says its next key priority is to reach consensual deal agreement with Delphi and its unions that makes sense for all of parties.

Other companies reporting earnings on Thursday include Altria Group (MO), Bank of America (BAC), BellSouth (BLS), Capital One Financial (COF), Eli Lilly (ELY), Newmont Mining (NEM), Nucor (NU), and UPS (UPS).

Companies on Friday's earnings calendar include 3M (MMM), Ford (F), Halliburton (HAL), RadioShack (RSH) and Schlumberger (SLB).

In the energy markets, May NYMEX crude settled (and expired) down 22 cents at $71.95 a barrel. Conditions were choppy throughout the session with profit taking dominating the selling interest, says Action Economics.

In economic news Thursday, initial jobless claims fell 10,000 to 303,000.

March leading indicators slipped 0.1% in March following a 0.5% decline in February (revised from -0.2%). Four of the ten components contributed negatively, paced by building permits (-0.15%) and jobless claims (-0.03%). The data were a little weaker than expected.

The April Philadelphia Fed Index rose to 13.2 in April, below the forecast, while the price and employment components were fairly firm, reports Action Economics.

Treasury Markets

Treasury yields rose as a reasonable string of data and stock market gains left any retracements shallow and the bears in charge after the jump in core CPI on Wednesday, says Action Economics. The 10-year note yield ticked up to 5.04%.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.