U.S. stocks opened mildly higher thanks to strong earnings ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's news conference. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 8 points to 12,603. Boeing is up 2% following earnings. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed a point to 1,348. The Nasdaq Composite gained 5 points to 2,853. The earnings keep coming in better than expected. In the tech space Amazon and Corning are trading up over 3% following earnings. The chips continue to perform well. Altera is up 3% following earnings. Qualcomm was upgraded. Broadcom is one of the few chips trading sharply lower following earnings. Allegheny Tech is modestly lower following earnings. Lexmark is lower on a downgrade following dismal earnings two days ago. One sector that is weak is the commodities. The fertilizers, the copper, steel, and oils are mostly lower. US Steel is down 3% on a downgrade. Parker Hannifin is down 5% following earnings. Conoco Phillips is down 2% after missing estimates. Southern Company is modestly lower. Hess and Baker Hughes are bucking the trend trading up over 2% following earnings. The financials are holding up so far this morning. Moody is jumping 9% following earnings and a raised outlook. After the first hour the Dow held on to modest gains while the Nasdaq fell into the red. Through the morning the averages moved sideways ahead of the Fed meeting. Within the Dow, IBM looks good trading up a percent at a new 52 week high. Heading into the lunch hour and during the lunch hour the Dow improved rallying 40 points. The Nasdaq moved into the green. Besides IBM within the Dow, GE is showing some life rallying 3.5%. Not bad. Exxon Mobil is still lower, but the company raised their dividend today. An hour later Chevron raised their dividend. Earnings are improving and dividends are going higher. That's a good sign. In the afternoon the Fed left rates unchanged and the Fed Chairman started his press conference. The averages initially sold off, but then rebounded. In the last hour the rally accelerated as investors grasped the statement that the Fed would remain accommodating for an extended period of time or at least two more meetings which gets us into the fall season or six months from now. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 95 points to 12,690. The S&P 500 rose 8 points to 1,355. The Nasdaq Composite rose 22 points to 2,869 its highest close since December 2000.
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