George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

April 23, 2014

Make it six in a row. Stocks moved higher again yesterday as investors focused on corporate earnings rather than events going on half-way around the world. The S&P 500 rose for the sixth consecutive session and is now up 1.7 percent for 2014. The Dow industrials have advanced in five of the past six sessions and began trading today just 62 points away from an all-time high. The Wall Street Journal managed to put a little mention of the stock rally on page C6. Imagine if the markets had been down six sessions in a row. It would have been front page stuff.

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Make it six in a row. Stocks moved higher again yesterday as investors focused on corporate earnings rather than events going on half-way around the world.

Early earnings reports today from Boeing, Procter & Gamble, and Delta Airlines have topped expectations. But the real fireworks will come after the close of trading today when reports from Apple, Facebook and Qualcomm all hit the wires. Should be an interesting day tomorrow.

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Another stock having a big day is Skechers USA. Its shares are trading near an all-time high this morning, up about 6 percent, after reporting strong sales in Q1. However, the company is getting a lot of publicity -- and probably a burst in sales -- after it was announced the winner of the Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi, was wearing running shoes from Skechers. Not just any shoes, but GoMeb Speed 3 running shoes. Most people equate Skechers with skateboarders and other youth sports activities, but the company has been expanding its product lines and this will certainly be a plus.

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"Sales of new single-family homes plunge 14.5 percent in March" screamed the headline on MarketWatch.com this morning. Oh, the humanity! Seems the analysts were caught off guard by the lingering effects of the Big Freeze and continued lack of inventory for new homes across much of the country. Most of the housing construction these days is in the area of multifamily stuff like apartments and condos. Building detached homes doesn't quite pencil out and financing for construction is still tight.

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Ben Bernanke was asked yesterday if he had any regrets about his eight-year tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. His response at the Economic Club of Toronto gathered a few chuckles when he said, "Taking the job." Of course, it's doubtful Ben would be pulling in $250,000 a speech if he hadn't taken the job at the Fed.

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So far it hasn't been a problem, but coffee prices for raw beans continue to spike higher and yesterday hit a 26-month high. The problem continues to be the drought conditions in Brazil, the world's largest coffee producer and shipper. Most of the big retailers like Starbucks and McDonald's have long-term contracts for their beans so we probably won't see any increases there. But, bagged coffee in stores could get expensive.

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