On an up-and-down day in the markets, a merger of big home builders got the credit for most of the ups and the minutes of the Fed's meeting last month took the blame for most of the downs. A late surge pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 48 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 7,837.
Traders, it would appear, are still using any excuse to take a profit or to lighten up after a four-week run, and there are still buyers out there to meet them.
Among the stocks making news:
Alcoa (AA) posted -$0.59 EPS from operations and $4.14 billion in revenues, yet Thomson Reuters had estimates at -$0.57 EPS and $4.08 billion in revenues. With aluminum rates this far under $1.00, the company cannot make money, but the report was better than it could have been. Shares were up 2% at $7.96 late in the day.
Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) posted an 18% drop in earnings, but shares rose because the results were still better than what was expected now that Linens N Things is gone. Shares were up 22% at $31.30 before the close.
Cisco Systems (CSCO) rose after smaller rival, Juniper Networks (JNPR), issued a revenue warning that was actually an in-line earnings report. It was not great, but proof that some earnings can be maintained in the sector. Cisco stock was means that earnings can be maintained somewhat in a challenging environment. Shares were up over 1% at $17.06 ahead of the closing bell.
Pulte Homes (PHM) is acquiring Centex (CTX) in a $3.1 billion stock transaction to create the largest homebuilder in the US. Centex shares were up 18% at $9.04 and Pulte shares were down 11% at $9.58 shortly before the close.
Sprint Nextel (S) got a pop briefly from a note last night by Jim Cramer on CNBC's Mad Money noting that the stock was under-followed and overly-hated too much. But sellers came in against his call, and shares were down almost 4% at $4.19 shortly before the close.
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