Stocks moved higher for a fifth straight week, with the S&P 500 closing +0.69% to 2,367. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.0% to a 20,821, and is now on eleven consecutive up days. Back down to 2.31%, the Ten-year treasury yield is at the same level that it began the month of February.
US Economic data included Flash PMI showing slowing, but still solid, conditions for the month of February, falling slightly to 54.3. Respondents reported strength in domestic orders and slower pace for exports. Existing Home Sales increased 3.3% in January to a rate of 5.69 million, well above the consensus estimate of 5.58 million. On Wednesday, the Fed minutes showed that many participants believe it is appropriate to raise the federal funds target again "fairly soon" if incoming information on the labor market and inflation are in-line or better than expected.
Nordson (NDSN), Home Depot (HD), Wal-Mart (WMT), Cracker Barrel (CBRL), and State National (SNC) are among the companies that beat analysts' earnings estimates. CBRL reported its eleventh consecutive quarter of positive comparable restaurant sales growth and margin growth driven by favorable commodity prices and successful cost reduction programs. SNC saw a significant earnings increase y/y as a result of strong growth in Lender and Programs Services segments. Management was confident in the business and environment and raised its outlook for 2017.
Overall, as of Feb. 24th, with 92% of the companies in the S&P 500 reporting results for Q4 2016, 66% of companies have beat the mean EPS estimate and 52% of companies have beat the mean sales estimate, according to FactSet. The earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 is 4.9%. The fourth quarter will be the first time the index has seen y/y growth in earnings for two consecutive quarters since Q4 2014 and Q1 2015.
Next week, investors will look at a wide array of economic data, from Durable Goods Orders, GDP, and Retail Store Sales.