After Market: Following a Steep Drop, the Stock Roller Coaster Rises Again

The roller coaster that is Wall Street climbed uphill Thursday, with stocks bouncing back from Wednesday's big plunge, propelled by a solid report on fourth-quarter GDP, the apparent stabilization of some overseas currencies, and some positive earnings reports.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 110 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 20 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rallied 71 points -- a gain of nearly 2 percent.

The Dow's gains were led by Nike (NKE), Disney (DIS), Merck (MRK) and Caterpillar (CAT) -- each of which was up more than 2 percent.

A blowout quarter by Facebook (FB) prompted buying in the tech sector. Facebook shares jumped 14 percent, hitting an all-time high after the social media leader reported a big jump in revenue from mobile advertising. That helped lift Twitter (TWTR), which gained 7 percent, and LinkedIn (LNKD), up 4 percent.

Other big Nasdaq names: Amazon (AMZN) was up nearly 5 percent ahead of its earnings report, and Google (GOOG) rose 2.5 percent after agreeing to sell most of its Motorola Mobility unit to Chinese tech giant Lenovo.

This was the single busiest day of the earnings season -- and the results were widely mixed.

Among blue chip companies: Visa (V) gained nearly 2 percent as net topped expectations. But 3M (MMM) fell 1.5 percent; its net was in line. And Exxon Mobil (XOM) shares fell 1 percent.

Elsewhere, ADT (ADT) tumbled 17 percent after missing the earnings target.

And the data processing firm Neustar (NSR) plunged 20 percent. It issued a disappointing forecast.

Elsewhere on the earnings scorecard:
  • Under Armour (UA) soared 23 percent.
  • Alexion Pharceuticals (ALXN) up 21 percent.
  • UPS (UPS) gained less than 1 percent.
  • Whirlpool (WHR) lost 8 percent.
  • ITT Educational Services (ESI), the for-profit education company, slid 21 percent.

Finally, JetBlue (JBLU) rose more than nearly 6 percent after it agree to buy some of the slots at Reagan National Airport near Washington that American (AAL) and USAir were forced to sell as part of their merger settlement agreement with the government. Southwest (LUV) is buying some of those slots too. It rose 3 percent.

What to Watch Friday:
  • At 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for December, and the Labor Department releases its fourth-quarter employment cost index.
These major companies are due to report quarterly financial results.
  • Chevron (CVX)
  • Honda Motor (HMC)
  • Legg Mason (LM)
  • Mattel (MAT)
  • MasterCard (MA)
  • Tyco International (TYC)
  • Tyson Foods (TSN)
  • Weyerhauser (WY)
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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