The market is down 14 points.
The Dow Jones was up 87 points at 16,535 -- the market rose throughout the morning in a volatile session and range-traded throughout the afternoon. Dominating factors were good earnings results, continued M&A news and a rebound in momentum stocks. Trading volume was average in a 110 point range.
The Dow is within 100 points
from its all-time high of 16,631.63.
US earnings were generally better than expected
in a season which has been neither very bad nor particularly good. 55% of S&P 500 companies have now reported first quarter earnings. Thomson Reuters data indicates 68% have beaten estimates while 22% have missed. Merck beat estimates after confirmation yesterday Britain's Reckitt Benckiser could acquire its consumer health business. The energy sector was also supported by above-consensus earnings from BP and Valero. Twitter was down more than 10% in after-hours trade after disappointing growth.
The FOMC meeting has started --
a fourth US$10 billion reduction in asset purchases is expected to be announced at its conclusion tomorrow, to US$45 billion a month.
US economic data was mixed --
consumer sentiment was below expectations (although the second highest reading since January 2008) but home prices beat forecasts.
European markets were stronger --
The UK FTSE was up 1.04%, the French CAC was up 0.83% and the German DAX was 1.46% higher. Shares rose after some strong earnings from Nokia and Deutsche Bank, and BP also announced an increase in dividend. Peugeot Citroen launched the second part of a 3 billion euro ($4.2 billion) capital increase to fund its recovery plan and tie-up with China's Dongfeng. Its shares rose 10%.
The Aussie dollar was stronger
andis currently trading at US92.68c.
Oil rose US$0.44 or 0.44% to US$101.28 a barrel
on concerns about supply disruptions following a heightening of tensions in Libya.
Iron ore fell US$0.30
to US$108.30 a tonne.
Base metals were weaker
-- lead fell 1.29%, aluminium fell 0.94% and zinc fell 0.57%.
US earnings --
Twitter -- down 10.56% in after-hours trade, Ebay -- down 4.20% in after-hours trade, Ameriprise financial -- up 5.84%
Global economic data
-- UK first quarter growth was 0.8%, slightly less than forecast; Spanish unemployment fell to 25.9%, down from 26.0% but above market expectations; European economic sentiment index from the EC showed a slip in the euro area but a rise in the European Union as a whole.
- Aurizon (AZJ) -- March Quarter rail volumes -- 48.6 million tonnes of coal during the quarter, up from 43.6 million tonnes for the same period a year ago. AZJ says it expects to achieve financial yearhaulage of between 207 and 212 million tonnes for 2013/14, despite the impact of tropical cyclone Ita. The increase in coal volumes offset a 3% decline in freight volumes during the quarter.
- Brambles (BXB) -- Third quarter trading update. BXB says it is on track to achieve its full year profit guidance after increasing sales 6% during the first three quarters. It expects to make between $US930 million and $US965 million for the year to June 30, thanks to solid revenue growth. It recorded sales revenue of $US3.97 billion for the nine months to March 31, up 6%.
- Woolworths (WOW) -- Third quarter sales have come in at $15.19 billion up 5.3% on year or 5.9% Easter adjusted. The result was lower than an expected 6.5% and below $15.33 billion. The result was driven largely by Australian food and liquor business, which was up by 5.1% above an expected 3%. Sales from the company's petrol business were also up 5.1% to $1.82 billion. Online sales increased more than 50%. Hotels business lifted sales 0.6% to $357 million. Sales from the NZ supermarkets were up 16% to $1.33bn. Sales from Masters Home improvement division were up 29% to $374 million.
- Harvey Norman (HVN) -- Sales for the nine months ended 31st March. Sales totalled $4.33 billion up 4%. Like for like sales for the nine months ended 31 March 2014 increased by 5.2%.
- Stockland (SGP) -- Says it is on track to hit 6% EPS growth, which comes in at the upper end of guidance. It will also look to sell down its stake in Australand (ALZ).
- Tabcorp Holdings (TAH) -- Has increased third quarter group revenue on the back of growth in its wagering and media businesses. Revenue up by 2.5% to $492.3 million. Wagering revenue up by 2.7% to $377.2 million. Media and international up 4.2% to $54.3 million. Gaming services up 0.4%%.
- Lynas Corp (LYC) -- Shares have gone into a trading halt pending the release of an announcement about a proposed financing transaction.