Wall Street Ends on Upbeat Earnings From Berkshire, Cognizant

Markets Reuters

Wall Street ended higher on Monday as corporate earnings came in better than feared, although shares of McDonald's declined after the fast-food chain's turnaround plan left investors wanting more.

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc <BRKa.N> <BRKb.N> rose 1.62 percent, giving the biggest boost to the S&P 500 after the insurance and investment conglomerate's results beat forecasts.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 46.34 points, or 0.26 percent, to end at 18,070.4, and the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 6.2 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,114.49, just shy of its record-high close of 2,117.69 on April 24.

The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 11.54 points, or 0.23 percent, to 5,016.93.

“This is being driven by a lack of substantial negative news,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois. “Things in Europe seem pretty calm, we haven’t heard anything out of China, and against that backdrop, some of the earnings reports are looking better.”

Cognizant <CTSH.O> surged 6.15 percent after the IT services provider reported a better-than-expected rise in revenue and raised its full-year forecast.

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Seven of the 10 S&P sectors were positive, with the financials index <.SPSY> gaining 0.98 percent and the utilities index <.SPLRCU> 0.73 percent higher, with investors attracted by relatively high dividends.

With three-quarters of corporate earnings reports in, Wall Street is now trying to divine when the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates. An April payroll report due on Friday could give a hint.

While new orders for U.S. factory goods recorded their biggest increase in eight months in March, the underlying trend remained weak against the backdrop of a strong dollar, a further sign that a rebound in economic growth would not be as strong as last year.

Monday's rally in utilities suggested some investors believe the Fed will not raise rates soon and may be looking for yield, Jankovskis said. The S&P utilities index has a dividend yield of 3.7 percent, compared to the S&P 500's 2.4 percent dividend yield.

McDonald's Corp <MCD.N> closed 1.71 percent lower after its plan to turn the fast-food chain into a "modern, progressive burger company" failed to impress shareholders.

Shares of Pioneer Natural Resources Co <PXD.N> fell 1.88 percent and the S&P 500 energy index <.SPNY> lost 1.39 percent after David Einhorn, the influential head of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, said at a conference that oil fracking companies can "contaminate portfolio returns."

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,758 to 1,287, for a 1.37-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,593 issues rose and 1,158 fell for a 1.38-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 14 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 55 new highs and 35 new lows.

About 5.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7.2 billion daily average for the last five sessions, according to data from BATS Global Markets.

(By Noel Randewich; Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)