Thursday November 26th, 2015 11:05AM

Higher profits from Ford, others drive stocks up

By The Associated Press
NEW YORK - Another dose of strong corporate earnings, this time from Ford, Southwest Airlines and others, helped push the stock market higher on Thursday.

It's one of the busiest weeks on Wall Street for companies posting their quarterly results. Roughly a third of the Standard & Poor's 500 index will report earnings, including some of the world's best-known companies.

For investors, this week has also been a welcome return to business as usual. Wall Street has been focused for weeks on what's going on in Washington, with the government shutdown, the near-breach of the nation's borrowing limit and questions about what's next for the Federal Reserve's massive bond-buying program.

So far, corporate earnings have come in pretty much as most money managers expected. Companies are reporting bigger profits, but most of the growth has come from cost-cutting, a trend that hasn't changed very much since the financial crisis.

"We're in a slow-growth economy and companies need to do everything to boost earnings," said Brian Reynolds, chief market strategist at Rosenblatt Securities.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 95.88 points, or 0.6 percent, to 15,509.21. The S&P 500 index added 5.69 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,752.07, about two points below the record high of 1,754.67 it reached on Tuesday.

The Nasdaq composite was up 21.89 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,928.96.

Among companies reporting earnings, Ford earned an adjusted profit of 45 cents per share - a record for the third quarter - as sales rose 12 percent to $36 billion. The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker sold 1.5 million cars and trucks in the period, up 16 percent. Wall Street analysts had expected Ford to earn 37 cents per share, according to FactSet. Ford rose 24 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $17.76.

Southwest Airlines, the nation's largest domestic air carrier, reported sharply higher earnings. Southwest said it had an adjusted profit of 34 cents per share, up from 13 cents a year ago. Southwest rose 61 cents, or 4 percent, to $17.02.

AT&T fell 65 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $34.63. The telecommunications company said late Wednesday it had an adjusted profit of 66 cents in the third quarter, a penny above analysts' forecasts, however revenue fell slightly short of what analysts expected.

Two technology giants, Microsoft and Amazon, reported results after the stock market closed Thursday. Both beat analysts' expectations. Amazon rose 5 percent and Microsoft jumped 6.5 percent in after-market trading.

Wall Street also had some positive news out of China. A Chinese manufacturing index rose to a seven-month high in October, suggesting continued momentum for the rebound in the world's second-biggest economy.

With the S&P 500 trading near a record high and corporations finding it difficult to increase their sales, several market watchers have said they aren't sure how much further stocks can go from here.

There are signs that stocks are getting expensive. Investors are currently paying more than $16 for every $1 of earnings in the S&P 500, up from $14 at the beginning of the year.

"We're at this stage where we need to start to see the fundamentals improve," said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist with Prudential Financial.

In other corporate news:

- Visa rose $4.02, or 2 percent, to $202.91. The payment processing company raised its quarterly dividend by 21 percent to 40 cents per share.

- Xerox plunged $1.12, or 10 percent, to $9.61 after the company cut its full-year outlook and missed analysts' estimates.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 1 year ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Obama grants reprieve to turkeys 'Honest' and 'Abe' during White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation's most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and...
9:18PM ( 13 hours ago )
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 5 days ago )
World leaders vow vigorous response to Paris terror spree, but little indication of next steps
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — World leaders vowed a vigorous response to the Islamic State group's terror spree in Paris as they opened a two-day meeting in Turkey on Sunday, with President Barack Obama call...
2:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Rash of E. coli cases in Pacific Northwest highlights problem of foodborne illnesses
SEATTLE (AP) — As Chipotle prepares to reopen its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest this week after an E. coli outbreak that sickened about 45 people, health experts say foodborne illnesses are mor...
1:40AM ( 2 weeks ago )
Biden says he will not run for president in 2016, finalizing field of Democratic candidates
Vice President Joe Biden will not run for president in 2016, he said Wednesday, ending a months-long flirtation with a third White House campaign and setting him on a glide path toward the end of his decades-long political career.
1:34PM ( 1 month ago )