Oil rebound fizzles out
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U.S. stocks edged higher on Thursday as investors focused on a deluge of corporate earnings reports and economic data.
The S&P 500 gained 7 points, or 0.2%, to 2,345, with six of the 11 main sectors trading higher. Industrials and materials led the gainers, up about 0.7%. Telecoms stocks were the worst performers, down 1%.
Mark Kepner, managing director of sales and trading at Themis Trading, said earnings so far are good, but the lack of optimistic guidance might be keeping markets range-bound.
"The stock market is not that far off from its highs, but those highs now are acting as resistance. With so much geopolitical uncertainty abroad as well as delay in reaching the administration's goals, there is no real catalyst to go higher, but a lot of risks trigger a pullback," Kepner said.
The Nasdaq Composite advanced 23 points, or 0.4%, to 5,886.
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The Dow industrials advanced 50 points, or 0.3%, to 20,455.
The moves on Wall Street follow an oil-induced slump on Wednesday, though volatile crude-oil futures limited gains.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures for May, which staged a rebound before the opening bell, relinquished gains to trade 0.1% lower at $50.38 a barrel. Futures suffered their largest decline in weeks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-steadies-as-investors-await-eia-inventory-report-2017-04-19) on Wednesday after a surprise climb in U.S. gasoline supplies.
On Thursday, Saudi Arabia's energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is likely to reach a deal to extend the group's production cuts into the latter half of 2017 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/opec-set-to-extend-output-deal-says-saudi-energy-minister-2017-04-20).
"As long as the OPEC can regulate the supply, prices could stay at $50 or go slight higher. It would be a harder problem if oil prices are being pressured by demand, rather than supply," Kepner said.
Economic front: "The trend of the market is down and is not likely to reverse until clarity of the underlying fear factors are put to rest," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist for First Standard Financial, in emailed comments, referencing investor jitters over the impending French election, and tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Initial jobless claims rose by 10,000 to a still-low 244,000 in mid-April. Meanwhile, the number of out-of-work people collecting unemployment checks fell to a 17-year low (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/number-of-people-collecting-unemployment-checks-hits-17-year-low-jobless-claims-show-2017-04-20) last week, underscoring the strongest U.S. labor market in years.
Separately, the manufacturing index from the Philadelphia Fed slid in April (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/philadelphia-fed-factory-gauge-slides-again-from-33-year-high-but-remains-elevated-2017-04-20), but from high levels, suggesting slower growth in the factory sector after a postelection surge.
Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell, speaking about capital markets and the economy, said now was a good time to review the raft of banking regulations put in place since the financial crisis.
Earnings roll out: Shares of Philip Morris International Inc.(PM) fell 3% after the company fell short of earnings and first-quarter profit expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/philip-morris-shares-slump-after-earnings-miss-2017-04-20).
Foot Locker Inc.(FL) shares initially fell but rebounded to trade 3% higher even after the athletic apparel group issued a profit warning. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/foot-locker-shares-slide-after-profit-warning-2017-04-20)
(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/foot-locker-shares-slide-after-profit-warning-2017-04-20)Blackstone Group L.P.(BX) reported profit that nearly tripled, but missed expectations. Still, shares were up nearly 1.7%.
Verizon Communications Inc.(VZ) shares fell nearly 2% after the telecom company reported first-quarter earnings that missed Wall Street expectations.
Visa Inc.(V) and Mattel Inc.(MAT) are due to report after the close.
EBay Inc.(EBAY) shares dropped 4% after earnings.
Qualcomm Inc.(QCOM) shares were down 2.2% even after the chip designer beat earnings expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/qualcomm-gains-after-beating-earnings-expectations-despite-apple-legal-beef-2017-04-19).
Other markets: The Nikkei 225 Index rose for a fourth straight session, leading a recovery for Asia markets (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nikkei-up-for-4th-straight-session-leading-asian-market-recovery-2017-04-19). European stocks were marginally higher, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/unilever-shares-push-ftse-toward-first-win-in-5-days-2017-04-20) drifted south.
However, the French CAC 40 index rallied 1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/french-stocks-rise-ahead-of-european-peers-despite-election-worries-2017-04-20) after a Harris Interactive poll signaled a win for centrist Emmanuel Macron in Sunday's first-round presidential election. The euro shot to a three-week high (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/euro-hits-3-week-high-as-macron-holds-slim-lead-in-french-presidential-poll-2017-04-20) against the dollar of $1.0778.
Read:Here's how France's hotly contested election could spark market turmoil (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-frances-hotly-contested-election-could-spark-market-turmoil-2017-04-19)
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note inched 1 basis point higher to 2.23%. Gold prices were little changed.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 20, 2017 10:28 ET (14:28 GMT)