NEW YORK – Better earnings and rising oil prices are pushing U.S. stocks higher in early trading. Intel led the Dow Jones industrial average up after the maker of computer chips turned in higher earnings.
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KEEPING SCORE: The Dow rose 96 points, or 0.5 percent, to 18,133 as of 10:02 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,107, while the Nasdaq composite added 22 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,999.
FLYING: Delta Air Lines said its quarterly profit more than tripled as passengers flew more and fuel prices plunged from a year ago. The results came in better than analysts expected, sending Delta's stock up $1.26, or 3 percent, to $44.35, the second-biggest biggest gain in the S&P 500.
CHIPPER: The world's largest maker of computer chips, Intel, reported quarterly profits late Tuesday that beat analysts' targets. Revenue was flat, partially a result of weak demand for new personal computers. Intel's stock surged 86 cents, or 3 percent, to $32.39.
TRUST BUSTERS: The European Union's antitrust arm accused Google on Wednesday with abusing its dominance in Internet searches and opened an investigation into its Android mobile system, raising the stakes in the five-year antitrust battle. Google's stock fell $4.70, or 1 percent, to $535.14.
CRUDE: Benchmark U.S. crude oil surged $1.07 to $54.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 75 cents to $59.17 a barrel in London.
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LOW BAR: Expectations for overall first-quarter earnings are low. Analysts forecast that companies in the S&P 500 will report a 3 percent drop in profits. It that comes true, it would be the first time quarterly earnings shrank since 2009 when the U.S. was still climbing out of a recession. Most of the blame lies with the slump in oil prices over the past year, which has pinched oil and gas companies' profits, and the stronger dollar.
EUROPE: Major markets in Europe made gains. Germany's DAX rose 0.7 percent to while the CAC-40 in France was up 0.7 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.4 percent higher.
DRAGHI: Minutes after being forced from the stage at his briefing by a protester, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, indicated that he bank will stick with its monthly bond purchases despite recent signs of an economic rebound in the 19-country eurozone. Recent solid economic data has ratcheted up expectations that the ECB will ease up the pace on its purchases, so-called tapering. His briefing came after the bank kept its main interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.05 percent.
CHINA DATA: China was also in focus Wednesday after figures showed the world's No. 2 economy cooled further as manufacturing and retail sales slowed in January-March. Growth fell to 7 percent from the previous quarter's 7.3 percent, the weakest performance since 2009. The slower pace of growth has raised expectations that Beijing will look to enact further stimulus.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index fell 0.2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng recovered from early losses, gaining 0.2 percent, while the Shanghai composite index ended the day with a 1.2 percent loss.