What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Demitrios Kalogeropoulos Markets Fool.com

Stocks rose on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJINDICES: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) indexes each finishing higher by less than 0.5%.

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Today's stock market

Index

Percentage Change

Point Change

Dow

0.36%

74.51

S&P 500

0.25%

5.97

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Financial stocks attracted heavy investor interest, and theFinancial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLF) trailed the broader market by falling slightly. Gold prices ticked higher to help the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEMKT: GDX) rise 1.5%.

As for individual stocks, Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) and Tiffany (NYSE: TIF) saw heavy trading following the companies' quarterly earnings announcements.

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Image source: Getty Images.

Intuit raises expectations

Intuit shares advanced 7% to a new high after the software giant posted surprisingly strong fiscal third-quarter earnings numbers and raised its 2017 outlook. Revenue jumped 10% during the critical tax season period as the company achieved its market share goals while expanding its base of self-employed customers using its QuickBooks products. "This was another strong quarter for Intuit, with a hard-fought tax season delivering the revenue we promised along with continued momentum in our QuickBooks franchise," Chairman and CEO Brad Smith said in a press release.

Image source: Getty Images.

Operating profit improved due to the rising proportion of high-margin subscription sales. That boost allowed the company to post $3.90 per share of adjusted earnings to edge past consensus estimates that were calling for $3.87 per share.

Smith and his executive team increased their guidance for the full fiscal year that ends in July. Revenue is now expected to rise by as much as 10% to between $5.13 billion and $5.15 billion. Intuit's prior forecast had targeted a range of $5 billion to $5.1 billion. The profit outlook is brightening, too, with operating income expected to be between $1.36 billion and $1.38 billion, up from the prior range of $1.33 billion to $1.38 billion.

Tiffany's slow start to the year

Tiffany stock fell 9% following the release of the luxury retailer's quarterly results, which showed its continuing struggle with returning to sales growth. Comparable-store sales fell 4% in the key U.S. region thanks to declining demand from both foreign tourists and local shoppers. Tiffany endured minor comps drops in each of its other geographic regions (Europe, Japan, and Asia-Pacific). On the bright side, gross profit margin improved by nearly a full percentage point to 62% of sales thanks to falling raw material costs and increased demand for premium jewelry products.

Executives were satisfied with the broader trends, even as they hope to improve on them in the coming quarters. "While these results modestly exceeded our near-term expectations," Chairman and interim CEO Michael Kowalski said in a press release, "we are focused on executing long-term strategies to achieve stronger and sustainable performance through product introductions, optimization of our store base, effective marketing communications and the delivery of experiences that resonate with our customers."

Management affirmed its outlook for low-single-digit sales growth in 2017, which would mark the company's first expansion since 2014. Falling expenses and costs should help earnings rise at a faster pace so that it improves on last year's $3.55 by nearly 10%.

That result would produce Tiffany's biggest annual profit on record. However, with the first quarter kicking 2017 off with sales declines, the stakes are rising for the retailer to outperform during the upcoming holiday season.

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Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Intuit. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.