US shares creep up despite housing sales drop

The major US stock indices have risen marginally, despite disappointing results from McDonald’s and signs that the housing market may be cooling down.

Dow-component McDonald’s fell 2.7% after announcing second-quarter earnings and revenue that both missed estimates. Earnings grew from $1.32 per share for the same quarter in 2012 to $1.38, but fell short of the $1.40 that had been expected. The fast-food giant said weak sales in Europe and Asia undermined its overall performance and that based on recent sales trends results for the rest of the year would be pressured.

McDonald’s was the biggest drag on the Dow, but a 1% bounce in Microsoft, the Dow’s weakest performer on Friday, meant the Dow Jones was flat by early afternoon in New York. The broader S&P 500 rose 0.12% to 1694.2, edging closer to the 1700-mark.

The market seems to have slipped back into the curious condition of being reassured by bad results because of the implications for extended monetary stimulus.

Sales of existing homes are slowing, with a 1.2% drop seen in June. This isn’t a surprise given the recent hike in mortgage rates, and it is offset to some degree by the fact that US house prices continue to rise substantially, but the housing market has been one of the big drivers of the economy this year and this latest data is a suggest the US economy remains vulnerable.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index appears to confirm that June was something of a soft month for the economy with a reading of -0.13 following on from May’s -0.29. Negative readings signal growth that is below trend. Although the index shows improving employment, consumption and housing were areas of weakness this month. The Fed will be monitoring this situation closely.

This will be a busy week for corporate reporting, with roughly a third of the S&P 500 companies due in the next few days, including Netflix after the close in New York tonight.

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