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There were a couple of big stories today.First the scoreboard:

Dow: 13,090.7, +89.1, +0.6%
S&P 500: 1,390.6, +18.7, +1.3%
NASDAQ: 3,029.6, +68.0, +2.3%

And now the top stories:

  • A quick update on Europe: the UK officially fell into recession in Q1.  GDP unexpectedly fell 0.2 per cent, which was much worse than the 0.1 per cent increase forecasted by economists.  This was the second straight quarter of declines.
  • Earthmover Caterpillar – perhaps the best bellwether of global economic activity – blew earnings expectations out of the water.  EPS came in at $2.37 versus expectations for $2.13.  The company also raised its guidance.  “We remain on track for another record­breaking year in 2012 at a time when U.S. construction activity remains depressed and economies in Europe, China and Brazil have slower outlook reflects a record year, we are highly focused on preparing for additional growth over the next few years,” said CEO Doug Olberhelman. 18 Huge Companies Reveal The Truth About The Unusually Warm Winter >
  • Everyone’s talking about Apple today, which is the key reason why the Nasdaq exploded higher and the S&P 500 outperformed the Dow.  Apple had an absolutely monster first quarter.  Revenue came in at $39.2 billion versus expectations of $36.8 billion.  EPS of $12.30 smashed expectations for $10.06.  iPhone sales beat expectations, but iPad and Mac sales came in a little light.  But more important than anything else was the surprise on profit margins, says Goldman Sachs’ Bill Shope.  The sceptics got crushed today and the stock surged. What The World’s Biggest Companies Are Telling Us About The State Of The Economy >
  • The Federal Open Market Committee kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged as everyone expected.  The language in its statement was also largely unchanged.  The FOMC’s projections, however, were much more interesting.  The members revised there unemployment rate forecasts down to 7.8 per cent.  Also, seven members now believe the Fed should beginning tightening in 2014 versus just five in the last forecast.  All this means is that another round of quantitative easing is likely to come.
  • But during his press conference, Bernanke appeased the QE-philes with five magic words: “We’re prepared to do more.”
  • Don’t Miss: These 17 American Cities Will See Home Prices Bottom By 2012 >

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