U.S. Stocks Advance as Earnings Remain Strong: Market Recap

U.S. markets advanced on Wednesday, overcoming early-morning tepidness to extend record highs.

DJIA: +0.32% to 15,105.10 S&P 500: +0.41% to 1,632.69 NASDAQ: +0.49% to 3,413.27
Gold: +$23.30 to $1,472.10 Oil: +$0.92 to $96.54 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: -0.011 points to 1.767%

Why the Student Loan Bubble Looks Like the Housing Crisis: A group of bankers have just dumped two more problems on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s plate. The Federal Advisory Council, made up of 12 bankers who meet quarterly to advise the central bank, warned that farmland prices are inflating “a bubble” and growth in student loan debt has “parallels to the housing crisis,” which was the primary cause of the 2007 to 2009 recession in the United States… (Read more.)

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Did Obamacare End Medical-Billing Secrecy? As made abundantly clear from data released by the International Federation of Health Plans, which reports the prices insurers are actually paying for different drugs, devices, and medical services in different countries, healthcare in the United States costs much more than it does in other countries. Excluding the politics — leaving behind arguments over whether the government should become more or less involved in healthcare — simple facts show a great disparity in the actual cost of health services compared to the prices listed on hospitals’ chargemasters… (Read more.)

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

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) closed the day up 10 percent after reporting fiscal second-quarter results. Revenue increased 13.4 percent on the year to $3.0 billion, in line with the average analyst estimate. Adjusted earnings increased 18.8 percent on the year to $0.76 per share, beating the average analyst estimate of $0.73 per share. Same-store sales increased 6.9 percent during the same period. The company also raised its fiscal-2013 earnings outlook to a range between $2.86 and $2.89 per share, as well as a two-for-one stock split.

J.C. Penney Company (NYSE:JCP) closed the day up 7.4 percent after reporting preliminary first-quarter financial information. The retailer anticipates total sales of approximately $2.635 billion, a 16.4 percent decline from the year-ago period, and a 16.6 percent decline in comparable-store sales. The company added that the sales decline is partially attributable to both construction activities as well as “its prior pricing and marketing strategies, which are being changed under new leadership.” J.C. Penney will report full results on May 16.

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Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ:SYMC) closed the day down 2.43 percent after reporting earnings. Revenue rose 4 percent on the year to $1.75 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of $1.73 billion. Adjusted earnings increased 15.8 percent on the year to $0.44, beating the mean analyst estimate of $0.38 per share. However, weak forecasts drove the stock down.

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) closed the day up 17 percent following its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report on Tuesday.Revenue decreased by 23.98 percent on the year to $1.04 billion, meeting the average analyst expectation. Adjusted earnings increased 223.5 percent to $0.55 per share, missing the average estimate of $0.58 per share.

AOL (NYSE:AOL) closed the day down 8.9 percent after reporting financial results. Revenue rose 1.7 percent on the year to $538.3 million, beating the average analyst estimate of $537.15 million. Adjusted earnings increased 45.5 percent on the year to $0.32, missing the average estimate of $0.35 per share.

More on the economy:

Will Germany Allow the European Commission as Banking Authority? As illiquid European banks continue to present problems in the EU, leaders are now contemplating the potential of creating authority for the European Commission or the European Stability Mechanism to wind down faltering banks. While Germany continues to be the key variable in the bailouts of banks, the EU has slowed progress towards creating a banking union due to previous German disinterest… (Read more.)

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6 Answers to the Big Questions on the New Sales Tax: On Monday, the Senate made its move to push a new bill forward that would have some major implications on the e-commerce industry. The bill in question is the Marketplace Fairness Act, which targets retailers that sell over $1 million in goods over the Internet. So far, those retailers have been able to avoid tagging a sales tax on their goods. This may have been a boon for their business, as it freed them from the hassle of having to sort out the tax, and it also made it easier to beat competitors’ prices and steal away customers… (Read more.)

Don’t Miss: Americans Are Surprisingly Less Worried About Their Finances.