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Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), American Express Company (AXP) Among Today’s Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) Winners

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is down for the second day in a row following some mixed economic releases. As of 1:25 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is down 39 points, or 0.27%, to 14,579. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) is down 0.33% to 1,547.

There were two U.S. economic releases today.

Report Period Result Previous
Weekly jobless claims April 6 to April 13 352,000 348,000
Conference Board Leading Economic Index March (0.1%) 0.5%

The key report is the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index, which declined by 0.1% in March, short of February’s 0.5% growth and analyst expectations of 0.2% growth. The index is made up of 10 indicators and is designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle. Contributing to the drop were the ISM New Orders Index, the drop in building permits, and average consumer expectations for business conditions. Although the index dropped, it still points to growth — just slower growth. After the index rose for three months, investors were dismayed by the fall, especially because sequestration hadn’t fully taken effect in March.

Today’s Dow leaders
Today’s Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) leader is Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), up 3.5% after it reported quarterly earnings this morning. Analysts had expected the company to report earnings per share of $0.66 and revenue of $29.6 billion. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) bested expectations with earnings per share of $0.68, up 15% from last year’s $0.59 per share. However, it missed expectations on revenue with sales of $29.4 billion, up 4% from last year’s $28.2 billion.

 Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ)

The positive results were led by Verizon Wireless, which grew by 8% and expanded its margins by 4%. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD), which owns 45%. There has been much speculation that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) might buy Vodafone’s stake or perhaps buy all of Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD), but the company flatly denies that it will make a bid.

Second for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) today is American Express Company (NYSE:AXP), up 1.7% on a better-than-expected earnings release. The credit card giant reported earnings per share of $1.15 last night, beating analyst expectations of $1.12. Revenue of $7.9 billion slightly missed Wall Street forecasts of $8 billion. Within the positive results, the company made two announcements about returning value to shareholders. First, the company plans to buy back $3.2 billion worth of stock over the course of the year. Second, American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) will raise its dividend by 15% to $0.23 per share, which gives the stock a forward yield of 1.4%.

The article Today’s Dow Winners originally appeared on Fool.com is written by Dan Dzombak .

Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak or on his Facebook page, DanDzombak. He owns shares of Vodafone. The Motley Fool recommends American Express and Vodafone.

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