The earnings reports of Microsoft and Apple were not big market movers, but most of the large companies beat expectations, including big industrial and material names like Boeing , Dow Chemical, General Dynamics, Norfolk Southern, and Ryder.
But what about Whirlpool? They not only missed profit and revenue expectations by a wide margin, they also cut their full year forecast (they said it was partly due to customer inventory transitions in China) to levels below Wall Street's current estimates. Gross margins were also below expectations.
First off, Whirlpool is a global company, and China is only a small part of its business:
(revenue percentage, by region)
North America 54 percent
L. America 26 percent
Europe, Middle East
and Africa (EMEA) 16 percent
Asia 4 percent
Second, North America unit shipments are now expected to increase by 5 percent; prior guidance was up 5 to 7 percent. Latin America is flat to down 3 percent, from expectations of just flat. The EMEA region is flat to up 2 percent, unchanged from prior guidance.
In other words, growth is still modest, and expectations for growth are being ratcheted down rather than up.
Whirlpool had a fabulous run in 2012 and 2013, rallying more than 100 percent on the back of the remodeling boom. But that rally stopped a year ago; it's been sideways since. That old saw really is true: WHR is a proxy for the building/remodeling business.
1) The low-volume, low-volatility market can lull a lot of people into thinking nothing is happening. That, however, isn't true. Emerging markets dramatically under-performed the U.S. earlier this year, but they have been roaring back since bottoming out nearly three months ago. That rally has continued into July:
Indonesia +11.2 percent
Brazil +8.2 percent
South Africa +2.9 percent
Germany +4.3 percent
Most emerging markets are near 52 week highs, and while there is some country-specific news (Indonesia just went through an election) most of this is due to rotation. Meantime, Europe has underperformed, and not just due to concerns in the Ukraine. There has been continued lagging of European economies compared to the U.S., as well as lingering concerns about Portugal's banking system.
There are other sectors that are in "stealth" rallies: with strong auto sales, base metals and metals stocks like aluminum, iron ore, and steel have been rallying this month on better buying of base metals. Powershares' Base Metals ETF has rallied 10 percent in the past month and is at a 52-week high.
--By CNBC's Bob Pisani