Consumer Sentiment Surges and Stocks Advance: Market Recap

Stocks advanced on Friday, pushing the S&P 500 to its fourth consecutive week of gains. Movement was catalyzed by better-than-expected economic indicators, which seemed to outweigh concerns that the Federal Reserve would begin tapering asset purchases.

DJIA: +0.80% to 15,354.40 S&P 500: +0.95% to 1,666.12 NASDAQ: +0.97% to 3,498.97
Gold: -$31.10 to $1,355.80 per ounce Oil: +0.84 to $96.00 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: +0.072 to 1.953%

Consumer Sentiment Hits Highest Level Since July 2007: Despite an overall sluggish economy, consumer sentiment in the United States reached its best level in almost six years. According to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s preliminary reading, consumer sentiment in early May rose to 83.7, compared to 76.4 in April. This is the highest level for the index since July 2007. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a modest increase to 77.9. In fact, the preliminary reading beat every estimate in the survey… (Read more.)

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5 Growing Pains for Obamacare: Coming off a recent three-year anniversary from when Obamacare was passed into law, Republicans and Democrats continue to battle over the healthcare reform’s implementation. On Thursday, House Republicans had yet another chance to vote for the repeal of all or part of the Affordable Care Act — for the 37th time. And while they voted to do so 229 to 195, the repeal bill is certain to meet its death in the Democrat-led Senate… (Read more.)

Bill Gross: Is the End of the Bull Market Within Sight? Everywhere PIMCO founder and co-chief investment officer Bill Gross looks, he sees bubbles. “Not just in the bond market,” he told Bloomberg Television in an interview earlier this week, but in the bull run of the stock market over the past few years as well. These bubbles, of course, are being inflated by the billows of Federal Reserve bond buying. Now bogged down in its fourth discrete round of quantitative easing, the Fed has pumped so much liquidity into the economy that what once felt like a flood is now the new normal… (Read more.)

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) closed the day off 0.22 percent after the beleaguered PC-maker reported mixed first-quarter results. Revenue decreased 2.4 percent on the year to $14.1 billion, beating the average estimate of $13.5 billion. However, adjusted earnings fell 51.2 percent on the year to $0.21 per share, missing the average estimate of $0.35 per share. The company is fighting against a tide of declining PC sales while being torn between competing buyout proposals of various scales… (Read more.)

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) stock closed the day down 4.15 percent after posting first-quarter results. The struggling retailer reported that revenue decreased 16.4 percent on the year to $2.64 billion, missing the average estimate of $2.7 billion. Adjusted earnings fell to -$1.31 per share, missing the average estimate of -$0.86 per share. However, shares are still up 27 percent on the month, having reacted favorably to the ousting of of former turnaround CEO Ron Johnson… (Read more.)

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Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) closed the day up 2 percent after reporting financial results. Revenue declined 22.4 percent on the year to $2.0 billion, beating the average estimate of $1.9 billion. Adjusted earnings decreased 40.7 percent on the year to $0.16 per share, beating the average estimate of $0.13 per share.

First Year in Review: Is the Glass Half Full? Saturday, May 18, will be the one-year anniversary of Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) stock market debut, which is now seen as one of the most disappointing initial public offerings in history. For the social network, the past twelve months have been a fight to transform the social network into a mobile-centric platform that generates more revenue from advertising and acts as a conduit that delivers what consumers want most from their phones: ways to communicate, shop, be entertained, and find answers to simple queries… (Read more.)

Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) closed the day down 6.7 percent after reporting earnings. Revenue declined 3.2 percent on the year to $570 million, missing the mean analyst estimate of $583.4 million. Adjusted earnings decreased 10.6 percent to $0.42 per share, missing the mean analyst estimate of $0.45 per share.

Aruba Networks (NASDAQ:ARUN) closed the day down 25.6 percent after reporting earnings and issuing a weak forecast. Revenue climbed 11.5 percent on the year to $147.1 million, missing the average estimate of $149.8 million. Adjusted earnings decreased 31.3 percent to $0.11 per share, missing estimates of $0.15 per share.

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On Friday, the Department of Defense approved the use of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) products that run a version of the iOS 6 mobile platform. This move is seen as key to the firm now being able to rival Samsung and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) for military sales, and could ultimately ignite a three-way battle for a market long dominated by the latter. On May 2, the Pentagon approved Samsung’s devices, along with BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

When the U.S. Treasury assesses every green technology bet it made, it might find Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) the biggest winner of the bunch. The California-based electric car maker is gearing up to raise more than $1 billion as it looks past its U.S. Government loan and tries to increase investor confidence in the company. For an administration still criticized for losers like Solyndra, there is a lot to like about Tesla.

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