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Higher profits from Ford, others drive stocks up

Oct. 25, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

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.

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