July 24 - Summary: Mobile growth helps Facebook top sales and profit forecasts; Boeing, Ford lift full-year outlooks but Caterpillar cuts view; Obama tries to re-energize economic policy; Stocks stall. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Facebook swung to higher-than-anticipated quarterly profits and sales. It appears Facebook is getting mobile strategy right. Mobile made up more of total ad revenues than it did the prior quarter. One other metric of note - the monthly average number of users logging on to the social network on their phones jumped 51 percent from the same time last year. The response was bullish - the stock immediately surged above $31 in after-hours trade - a level not breached since February. Turning to manufacturing: Boeing raised its outlook after demand for 787 Dreamliner jets and foreign orders for military aircraft pushed results ahead of the consensus. Ford also boosted full-year guidance. Higher U.S. truck sales, strong demand in China, and a surprise smaller-than-expected loss in Europe drove the automaker to a forecast topping quarter. But Caterpillar slashed its outlook for the year. The problem: a slowdown in the mining industry caused profits to crater by more than 43 percent. That prediction gave investors little reason to buy stocks. The S&P 500 had its first two-day drop in a month. The Nasdaq was basically unchanged. Google is updating its nexus 7 tablet. The latest version is thinner than its predecessor and comes with higher screen resolution. The cut-throat priced tablet hits the market at a time when Apple revealed a 20 percent drop in iPad sales last quarter, and Microsoft recently slashed prices on the Surface because of soft demand. New home sales hit a 5-year high. Meanwhile, President Obama is trying to re-energize his economic agenda - starting with a pledge: U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The only thing I care about is how to use every minute of the remaining 1276 days of my term to make this country work for working Americans again." Though short on details, The White House is calling on Republicans to work with the President, who wants to spend on education and infrastructure in order to strengthen the economy and bring down unemployment. And speaking of a better economy, a survey of euro zone private businesses showed growth for the first time in two years - that was enough to send European stocks to an eight-week closing high.