Stocks staged a nice rally today.

First the scoreboard:

Dow: 14,673, +59.5 pts, +0.4 per cent
S&P 500: 1,568, +5.5 pts, +0.3 per cent
NASDAQ: 3,237, +15.6 pts, +0.4 per cent

And now the top stories:

  • aluminium giant Alcoa kicked off earnings seaon yesterday.  The company reported Q1 revenue that was a bit light, but earnings beat expectations.  The implication is that profit margins held up, which is a very important and bullish signal for the markets.
  • One of the biggest debates on Wall Street right now is whether record high profit margins are sustainable.  “Company managers are lowering estimates at a frantic pace,” said UBS’s Art Cashin in a note this morning.  “Wall Street sceptics, thinking the managers are playing possum, are holding to higher estimates.”  But should profit margins revert to a historic mean, then profits would quickly crumble and ultimately take the legs out from under the stock market. Read More About Profit Margins Here >
  • The National Federation of Independent Business reported that small business optimism fell 1.3 points to 89.5. “Job creation in the small-business sector was perhaps the only bright spot in the March report,” said the NFIB. “The fourth consecutive month of positive job growth, owners reported increasing employment an average of 0.19 workers per firm in the month of March.”
  • Meanwhile, the digital currency Bitcoin continues to surge in value.  This morning it jumped to $200 and then rocketed to $230 by the afternoon.
  • Shares of JC Penney tanked today. Yesterday afternoon, the company announced that Ron Johnson would be stepping down as CEO.  JCP had hired Johnson from Apple to revamp its stores.  However, Johnson’s plans quickly turned into a flop.  Former CEO Myron Ullman will be taking over until they can find a permanent replacement.
  • Don’t Miss: The American Manufacturing Renaissance Is A Flop >

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