Strong results from Google, IBM lift tech stocks
NEW YORK (AP) — Strong earnings from tech giants have nudged the stock market to a five-year high.
Google and IBM reported surprisingly solid fourth-quarter earnings late Tuesday, a hopeful sign for investors who expected tech companies to struggle at the end of last year.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 67 points to close at 13,779 on Wednesday. That's the highest level since Oct. 31, 2007, a month before the Great Recession started. But without the boost it got from IBM, the Dow would have closed flat.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up two points to 1,494. The Nasdaq composite rose 10 points to 3,153.
Investors were also encouraged by the fact that the House of Representatives voted to let the government keep paying its bills for another four months, delaying the threat of a disastrous default by the U.S. government on its debt.
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Thursday, supported by Congress averting a U.S. government default and a pickup in China's manufacturing in January.
HSBC Bank said its China manufacturing index rose to a two-year high of 51.9 in January from 51.5 in December. A reading above 50 indicates expansion on a scale of 100.
Japan's Nikkei index reversed course after three days of losses, rising 1 percent.
Benchmark crude oil was up to over $95 per barrel. The dollar was up against the euro and the yen.
Reports: Weekly jobless claims and mortgage rates
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims today, and Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reports on the weekly mortgage rates. Also today, the Conference Board releases leading indicators for December.
Some important quarterly financial reports will be released today. Among those reporting in the tech sector are AT&T, Microsoft, and Nokia. Transportation giants Southwest Airlines, United Continental Holdings, Union Pacific and Hyundai will release their quarterlies. Also reporting today, 3M and Starbucks.
Hyundai Motor's 4Q profit dented by won's rise
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. reported its lowest quarterly profit in nearly two years due to a surge in the local currency and lackluster car sales at home.
South Korea's largest automaker said Thursday it earned 1.89 trillion won ($1.77 billion) in the October-December quarter, down 5.5 percent over a year earlier.
The result was below the median analyst forecast of 2.05 trillion won, according to FactSet. It was also the automaker's smallest profit since the first quarter of 2011.
Sales rose 11 percent over a year earlier to 22.72 trillion won while operating profit fell 12 percent to 1.83 trillion won.
Hyundai attributed lower profit to the won's sharp gain against the dollar, which made it harder to compete with Japanese rivals such as Toyota.
LG Display posts profit but outlook dim
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — LG Display reported a profit for the fourth quarter as its key customers including Apple Inc. launched new products.
The South Korean panel maker said Thursday its October-December net income reached 319.7 billion won ($299 million), lower than the 352 billion won median forecast by analysts polled by FactSet.
It had a loss of 6.3 billion won a year earlier when the European Union fined LG 215 million euros for price fixing.
Sales rose 32 percent to 8.74 trillion won. Operating profit totaled 587.3 billion won, compared with a 154.7 billion won loss a year earlier.
Analysts expect a lower profit in the current quarter due to slower sales of iPhones and iPads.
Apple's profit rocket hits air pocket
NEW YORK (AP) — Apple's profit surge halted in the latest quarter, as a flood of new products like the iPhone 5 meant high start-up costs for new production lines.
Apple posted net income for the October to December quarter that was flat with the year before. It was the first time in years that Apple didn't post a double-digit earnings increase.
Net income in the fiscal first quarter was $13.1 billion, or $13.81 per share. That still beat expectations, as analysts polled by FactSet had forecast earnings of $13.48 per share.
Revenue was $54.5 billion, up 18 percent from a year ago. Analysts were expecting $55 billion.
Apple shipped 47.8 million iPhones in the quarter, about 1 million less than analysts were expecting, and 22.9 million iPads, also about 1 million short.
Netflix 's stock soars on big 4Q subscriber gains
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix's Internet video service has added 2 million U.S. subscribers during the final three months of the year to produce an unexpected profit for the company.
The performance announced Wednesday validates investors' recent confidence in Netflix Inc., whose volatile stock had surged by more than 30 percent since early December. The stock soared another 29 percent after the fourth-quarter numbers came out.
The surge in new customers left Netflix with 27.1 million U.S. subscribers to its service that streams movies and TV shows to Internet-connected devices.
Netflix earned nearly $8 million, or 13 cents per share. That was a 78 percent drop from the same time in the previous year.
But investors had been bracing for a loss as Netflix's expenses rose.
Revenue climbed 8 percent to $945 million.
Congress charts new collision course over deficit
WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation's sharp disagreements over taxes and spending are on a re-routed collision course, as Senate Democrats launch a plan that includes new taxes and House Republicans vow to speed up their plan to balance the federal budget with spending cuts alone.
The Republicans' new approach would require even deeper cuts in social programs than they pushed last year. Liberals denounced those earlier plans as severe and unfair, and they say the new version would be worse.
The new commitments by House and Senate members stem from the ongoing dispute over raising the federal debt ceiling. The House voted Wednesday to postpone any showdown over the borrowing limit for three months. The Democratic-led Senate plans to endorse the idea, which the White House also supports.
Survey finds China manufacturing hits 2-year high
HONG KONG (AP) — A survey shows China's manufacturing activity grew this month at the fastest pace in two years. The report adds further evidence that the world's second-biggest economy is coming out of a downturn.
HSBC said Thursday that its preliminary monthly purchasing managers' index rose to 51.9 in January. It's the fifth straight monthly increase. Readings above 50 on the 100-point scale indicate an expansion.
HSBC said that manufacturers stepped up production by adding jobs and making more purchases.
Data released earlier this month showed China's economy rebounded in the final quarter of 2012, expanding 7.9 percent. The country is limping out of its deepest slump since the 2008 global financial crisis.
The index is based on a survey of 420 manufacturers. The full version is due a week later.