April 25 - Summary of business headlines: Amazon earnings top forecasts, but sales lag; Starbucks revenues up in key U.S. segment; Verizon hires advisers to prepare for Verizon Wireless bid; Jeremy Siegel sees Dow 18K by 2014. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Encouraging data on the labor market helped give stocks a minor lift. But there was another market glitch - this time the Chicago Board Options Exchange - was shut for more than three hours due to a software glitch. After the bell: Profits at Amazon.com came in way ahead of forecasts, but sales, though up 22 percent, did not live up to expectations. Amazon is predicting a loss for the current quarter when it comes to operating income. Amazon is investing big in original programming and content acquisitions for its Prime Instant Video Service. Starbucks posted a higher quarterly profit and revenues - up 11 percent thanks to resilience in its key U.S. market. Ahead of that: Profits at UPS beat targets. The No. 1 package delivery company cites "a stronger than expected post-holiday season." Sales and earnings at 3M weaker than expected and the company is cutting its full-year profit forecast - pinning part of the blame on a stronger dollar. Profits per share topped the consensus view for ExxonMobil thanks only to a stock buyback. One final corporate story of note: Two sources say Verizon has hired advisers to put together at a $100 billion bid to buy the rest of Verizon Wireless from partner Vodafone. Spokespeople for all three companies declined to comment on the report. Jobless claims surprisingly dropped by 16,000 last week. The data are boosting optimism April job creation was as good as expected. That sent the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rallying for a fifth day in a row, while blue chips are up four of the past five sessions. Noted stock market watcher Jeremy Siegel is out with a new prediction. SOUNDBITE: JEREMY SIEGEL, WHARTON PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I'm predicting actually that the Dow will reach somewhere between 16,000 and 17,000 by the end of this year. And has a chance at 18,000 by the end of 2014." "What we're going to see is people losing their fear of the stock market, finally saying: 'That's the only place I can go now for rising dividends, for decent yields; bond market is dangerous, the other markets are dangerous,' And I think that that movement towards equities is going to be the driving force." Finally, most markets in Europe - up for a fifth day as the U.K. avoids a triple-dip recession.