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Tech Takes Center Stage After Strong Facebook Results, With Amazon in the Wings

(Thursday Market Open) The earnings extravaganza keeps on churning today, with a boatload of companies stepping into the spotlight, including Amazon (AMZN). Eyes also turn toward Capitol Hill, where Senate Republicans scramble to move ahead with health reform legislation.

Facebook’s (FB) Q2 earnings looked solid, beating estimates from Wall Street. The stock moved higher in pre-market trading, helping lend a firm tone to the overall market. Facebook’s $9.19 billion ad revenue tally beat analysts’ average estimate for $9.02 billion, so things seem to be in good shape there.

The battered telecom sector showed some signs of life, with Verizon (VZ) reporting better than expected revenue one day after AT&T (T) moved higher on its earnings. The money VZ has spent on acquisitions appears to be paying off, and the stock and sector remain popular with TD Ameritrade clients in part due to nice dividends.

On the other side of the ledger, Twitter (TWTR) fell sharply in pre-market trading as investors appeared to fret over signs of slowing user growth. And while United Parcel Service (UPS) beat on top- and bottom- lines, its margins looked a little light. UPS results are often seen as a good measure of consumer confidence, and the takeaway from its margin performance could be that while consumers are definitely out there spending, the companies involved are letting them do so for very thin margins.

Stocks once again set new highs on Wednesday for all the major indices, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($DJI) getting the biggest boost amid solid earnings. Wednesday was Boeing’s (BA) day to carry the DJIA, as BA climbed 9% after beating analysts’ estimates for earnings per share and raising guidance. It was the best day for the stock in nearly a decade.

Some of the other key earnings to watch this morning include Bristol-Myers (BMY), ConocoPhillips (COP), Dow Chemical (DOW), Fiat Chrysler (FCAU), MasterCard (MA), and Procter & Gamble (PA).

After the close, Amazon (AMZN) takes center stage. It probably goes without saying this is a really big one to watch, because AMZN can often help tell a broader story about consumer sentiment. It should also be interesting to listen to the company’s conference call for any new perspective on the purchase of Whole Foods (WFM). Amazon’s Web Services cloud computing division is another area to watch outside...