Stocks Bounce on Strong Earnings

Stocks rose smartly Wednesday as stronger-than-expected earnings from FedEx Corp. (FDX) and Morgan Stanley Inc. (MS) put investors' inflation fears on the back burner. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 100 points.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 104.62, or 0.95 percent, to 11,079.46.

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Broader stock indicators also closed higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 12.08, or 0.97 percent, to 1,252.20, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 34.14, or 1.62 percent, to 2,141.20.

Morgan Stanley's second-quarter profit more than doubled from a year earlier and FedEx saw a 27 percent jump in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings. The results quieted concerns about the possibility of an economic slowdown caused by rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

"With the backdrop of rising interest rates, if we're still able to see good earnings for the second quarter, it will bode well for the market," said Jim Herrick, director of equity trading at Baird & Co.

Every sector except utilities was trading higher by the end of the session, with the energy and materials sectors seeing the most dramatic gains.

Advancers led decliners by roughly 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Small cap stocks also rallied. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 13.17, or 1.94 percent, to 690.67.

Bonds were lower, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rising to 5.16 percent, up from 5.15 percent Tuesday. The U.S. dollar fell against most major currencies. Gold prices were higher.

Crude oil futures were higher after the U.S. Department of Energy reported that gasoline inventories grew at a slow pace last week, despite high production levels. A barrel of light crude settled at $70.33, up 99 cents in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The day's trading was the latest in a series of rollercoaster sessions on Wall Street. Inflation jitters have been shaking stocks recently and May was Wall Street's worst month of the year by far, as investors sold off on fears the Fed would continue its streak of rate hikes. The major indexes swung to losses in early June before rebounding sharply last week.

"I think the correction we've had may have been overdone," said Ed Keon, chief investment strategist with Prudential Equity Group in New York. "If we get even the slightest bit of encouragement from the Fed and if earnings are as good as I think they'll be, this could be a pretty good summer for stocks."

Companies involved in gasoline refining jumped after a government report suggested that fuel demand isn't being curbed by high prices. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC), a natural gas company, rose $1.54 to $47.92; Noble Corp., a drilling company, rose $3.41 to $69.38 and BJ Services Co., a pressure-pumping services company, rose $1.21 to $34.51.

Materials stocks, such as copper producer Phelps Dodge Corp. (PD) and United States Steel Corp. rose sharply. Phelps Dodge rose $3.15 to $80.91 and United States Steel rose $2.80 to $63.65.

Morgan Stanley, the nation's second largest securities firm, rose $2.46, or 4.3 percent, to $59.48 after its second-quarter profits jumped. The company reported record revenue driven by stronger underwriting, merger and acquisition, and trading results. The results far exceeded analysts expectations.

FedEx Corp. rose $5.54, or 5.1 percent, to $113.86, after it reported a 27 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings, citing solid economic growth in U.S. and international markets. FedEx is the world's largest express shipping company and its results beat Wall Street expectations by a wide margin.

Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI), operator of Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other restaurant chains, rose $1.74, or 4.9 percent, to $37.30 after reporting strong increases in fourth-quarter profits and same-store sales.

Volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 1.66 billion shares, up from 1.50 billion the previous session.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.03 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.12 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.18 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.09 percent.

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