There's an old adage in trading, "buy on the rumor, and sell on the news."
Most often, news and earnings reports have already been factored into the markets. The people who are aware of this information have already taken the appropriate action. These people do not include the general public. Individual self-directed traders tend to receive their news through the normal channels such as CNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the web. News by nature is a recap of worthy events, therefore the news tends to be old and comes too late. By the time these news stories are written and make their way from the TV or printing press to your eyes, the markets have already made their move.
The concept of buying on the rumor and selling the news is correct the majority of the time. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. Recently was earnings surprise that came out on Apple (NASDAQ_AAPL) on the 21st of January, 2009. Apple blew it out of the box and surprised many with its strong earnings, most of which came from overseas.
Only by following the market action can you have a handle on what's going to happen in the future. A recent example of this is eBay, I just finished a video on eBay a few days ago that I recommend you watch. It is a perfect example of market based price action predicting the news. When the news came out on eBay having its first quarterly loss in its history, it sent the stock down over 10%. I can't think of a better, or more recent example of market action predicting the news. And yes, it was a profitable trade for our MarketClub members.
My hope is that this blog posting will help you understand how professional traders use the news... but not to watch, just to sell.
Every success in life and in the trading,