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Big Day on the Dow, +520 Points; ULTA Beats & Raises

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It was an atypically bifurcated stock market today; instead of having the Nasdaq run ahead of the pack, led by the “Magnificent 7” A.I.-oriented plays, it was the Dow that cleaned up this session: +520 points, +1.47%, led by Salesforce (CRM - Free Report) coming off its impressive Q3 earnings report yesterday afternoon — it was up +9.36%. But Salesforce wasn’t the only Dow winner today: UnitedHealthcare (UNH - Free Report) , the index’s biggest component, rose +3.36%, while Boeing (BA - Free Report) gained +3.21%.

For the other indices, the S&P 500 grew +0.38% and the small-cap Russell 2000 gained +0.25%. Only the Nasdaq — which still clearly holds the lead among major indices over the past month and year-to-date — closed the session in the red, -0.23%.

There were other positive reports that helped move the day’s bullish sentiment along: Chicago Business PMI for November posted a surprise jump to 55.8 from 46.0 expected, and 44.0 reported a month ago. In fact, this was the first time Chicago PMI has been over 50 — the demarcation point between growth and loss — since the precipitous fall in the first several months of the Covid pandemic. This 55.8 level also notched a 17-month high. This is impressive for those looking for productivity in this economy.

Pending Home Sales for October, while posting a negative number for the month at -1.5%, is notably off the -2% analysts were expecting. This metric reached +1.1% a month ago, but high mortgage rates of over 7% have taken lots of these home buying initiatives off the table for the time being. The Northeast was the only region to post gains, while the West, South and Midwest showed year-over-year declines.  Yet these numbers are at their lowest since April 2020.

And Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), also for October, ahead of today’s opening bell came in largely in-line with rather tepid expectations. The PCE Index came in at 0.0.%, following a +0.4% in the previous month. Core PCE year over year came in at +3.5%, down slightly from 3.7% in September. In all, good for productivity and the economy, less good for inflation — it must be music to the Fed’s ears.

Meanwhile, Ulta Beauty (ULTA - Free Report) is out with Q3 earnings this afternoon, with a clear beat on the bottom line — earnings of $5.07 per share outpaced the $4.96 expected, while revenues of $2.49 billion managed to come out on top of the $2.47 billion in the Zacks consensus. The company also raised the top-end of their guidance on both earnings and sales, which helps the specialty retailer’s share price: up +9% in late trading. This almost brings share back to breakeven for the full year-to-date.

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