Stocks posted modest gains Thursday despite the horrible weather across the East Coast, which caused lots of business headaches, and despite a pair of disappointing economic reports. Retail sales last month fell and jobless claims moved higher, but investors overlooked those reports, blaming the lousy weather for both.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI), rose 63 points, moving back above the 16,000 level. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 10, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained 39 points.
A number of companies benefited from the idea that the millions of people stuck at home today had nothing to do but go online.
Facebook (FB) rose 4½ percent, Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN) gained 2 percent.
Plenty of us have had it with the snow and ice, and we're ready to get away. Cue the online travel companies. Priceline (PCLN) and TripAdvisor (TRIP), both up 3 percent, Expedia (EXPE) up 1 percent, and Orbitz (OWW) soared 28 percent after its earnings topped expectations. The stock has more than tripled in value, even though it still trades below $10 a share.
The other big story of the day -- Time Warner Cable (TWC) jumped 7 percent after agreeing to be acquired by Comcast (CMCSA) for $45 billion. But Comcast fell by nearly 4 percent and Charter Communications (CHTR), which apparently lost out in the bidding war to buy TWC, fell 6 percent.
On the earnings scorecard:
Goodyear Tire (GT) rolled up a 11 percent gain after beating expectations. Applied Materials (AMAT) rose 5 percent. CBS (CBS) gained 4½ percent. And investors preferred beer over soda. Molson Coors (TAP) gained nearly 3 percent, but Pepsico (PEP) fell 2 percent.
Cisco Systems (CSCO) lost 2½ percent. Its revenue fell sharply from a year ago, raising concerns about the company's management and its turnaround plan. Whole Foods (WFM) slid 7 percent after posting disappointing results and lowering its outlook for this year for a second time. Cabelas (CAB), the retailer of outdoors merchandise, fell 8 percent after badly missing estimates. It blamed a sharp falloff from the year ago surge in demand for guns and ammo. And Angie's List (ANGI) tumbled 13 percent on weaker-than-expected earnings.
What to Watch Friday:
- The Labor Department releases import and export prices for January at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
- The Federal Reserve reports industrial production for December at 9:15 a.m.
- The University of Michigan releases its initial reading of consumer sentiment for February at 10 a.m.