Stocks trimmed losses but remained down after news of a 7.4-magnitude earthquake east of Sendai Honshu, in northern Japan.
Most retailers posting March same-store sales Thursday delivered results that were better than analysts' expectations, providing some reassurance that consumers are still spending despite the late Easter and unusually cold weather.
Stock index futures pared gains and traded flat despite news of a slightly better-than-expected drop in jobless claims and better-than-expected chain store sales, but also after largely expected news that the European Central Bank raised interest rates.
As retailers gear up to report monthly same-store sales Thursday, analysts are expecting March to be a challenging month with the late arrival of Easter and rising gas prices.
Despite storms and rising gasoline prices, many retailers reportedly monthly sales managed to top analysts' estimates, but some warned of a weaker March due the timing of the Easter holiday.
Fears that winter weather would result in disappointing retail sales may have been overblown, as several retailers have not only reported better-than-expected monthly sales reports, they are also raising fourth-quarter earnings estimates.
Stocks ended sharply higher as the Dow and the S&P 500 hit new multi-year highs, easily erasing losses from Friday's sharp sell-off on turmoil in Egypt as investors focused on upbeat earnings and economic news.
Stocks added to solid gains on Tuesday, pushing the Dow and S&P 500 to multi-year highs, as the market easily erased losses from Friday's sharp sell-off in the wake of turmoil in Egypt as investors focused on upbeat earnings and economic news. Pfizer and Alcoa rose, while P&G fell.
Despite reporting some of the strongest sales gains in four years, retailers largely fell short of Wall Street's estimates as a still-cautious consumer spent their money carefully, and a Northeast blizzard stole from post-Christmas sales.
Heading into Thursday's batch of retail sales reports, expectations are high that retailers will report their strongest sales in four years. However, as BJ's Wholesale's report showed Wednesday, there are sure to be some misses here and there.
Shares of smaller companies are on track to double the return of their bigger peers. But will they remain turbo-charged into 2011?
Stocks closed off session highs, yet the Dow still hit its highest level since before Lehman Brothers collapsed as Treasury yields soared in the wake of the Federal Reserve's reaffirmation of its decision to buy bonds to stimulate the economy. AT&T and Kraft rose, while JPMorgan fell.
Stocks trimmed some gains but remained mostly higher Tuesday after the Federal Reserve reaffirmed its decision to buy bonds to stimulate the economy and left short-term interest rates unchanged. Kraft and Microsoft rose, while JPMorgan fell.
Stocks continued to trade higher Tuesday after a handful of mostly strong economic reports, and despite weak earnings from leading electronics retailer Best Buy, as investors await news from the Federal Reserve's meeting this afternoon. Boeing and Cisco rose, while JPMorgan fell.
Stocks rallied for second consecutive day following upbeat economic reports that revived hopes of a stronger U.S. economy and news the European Central Bank was buying euro zone debt. Home Depot and Alcoa rose, while Kraft fell.
Stocks continued their December rally Thursday, led by banks and homebuilders, following a handful of positive economic reports that revived hopes of a stronger U.S. economy and news the European Central Bank was buying euro zone debt. Home Depot and Alcoa rose, while Cisco fell.
Stocks gained after a surprisingly upbeat report from the housing market and as a stream of stronger-than-expected retail sales reports signaled a bright start to the holiday season. Bank of America and Home Depot rose.
November's monthly sales reports showed there were plenty of reasons for retailers to be merry as the critical holiday shopping season got underway.
U.S. futures fluctuated after a unexpected rise jobless claims, and news that the European Central Bank would not be increasing its government bond purchases. But the market gained some support from stronger-than-expected retail sales reports. .
What follows is a roundup of corporate earnings reports for Wednesday, Dec. 1.