Wall Street Edges Up on Heavy Earnings Day; Fed on Tap

Markets Reuters

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (Copyright Reuters 2017)

Wall Street edged higher on Tuesday as gains for the tech and industrial sectors countered weakness in auto and energy stocks and investors digested a heavy day of earnings reports.

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Ford <F.N> shares dropped 4.4 percent and General Motors <GM.N> fell 2.9 percent, as major automakers posted declines in U.S. new vehicle sales for April.

After the market closed, Apple <AAPL.O> shares fell more than 1 percent after the company reported a surprise drop in iPhone sales for the quarter. Apple shares had gained 0.6 percent during regular trading ahead of the report.

Investors also were awaiting other significant events later in the week, including Wednesday's expected statement from the Federal Reserve, which began meeting on Tuesday, and Friday's U.S. employment report.

The Fed is widely expected to stand pat on interest rates, but may offer hints on the possibility of a rate hike in June.

The benchmark S&P 500 <.SPX> is approaching record highs during an earnings season that has generally exceeded expectations.

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Overall, profits at S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 13.9 percent in the first quarter, the most since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"The technicals in general look good for the S&P," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama. "The fundamentals are improving, particularly as the earnings season unfolds here."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 36.43 points, or 0.17 percent, to 20,949.89, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 2.83 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,391.16 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 3.76 points, or 0.06 percent, to 6,095.37.

The technology sector <.SPLRCT> rose 0.3 percent, its fourth straight day of gains. Industrials <.SPLRCI> gained 0.5 percent, helped by airlines shares after Delta <DAL.N> said its passenger unit revenue increased 1 percent in April.

Energy shares <.SPNY> fell 0.5 percent as oil prices weakened.

The S&P 500 has climbed 11.8 percent since President Donald Trump's Nov. 8 election, fueled by hopes for his plans for tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending, though investors have questioned his ability to enact his agenda.

"The administration continues to issue tons of contradictory or hard-to-understand proposals and ideas and I think it has left this market a little bit confused about next steps," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

In earnings news, Advanced Micro Devices <AMD.O> tumbled 24.4 percent after the chipmaker's second-quarter gross margins forecast raised some concerns. The stock was the biggest percentage decliner in the S&P 500.

Archer Daniels Midland <ADM.N> sank 8.9 percent and CVS Health <CVS.N> fell 3.6 percent after their respective quarterly reports.

Coach <COH.N> shares rose 11.4 percent, making it the biggest gainer on the S&P, as the handbag maker cut back on discounting in the United States and sold more expensive bags.

Advancing and declining issues were roughly even on the NYSE, while on Nasdaq, a 1.26-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 47 new 52-week highs and 9 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 145 new highs and 51 new lows.

About 7 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, above the 6.5 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

 

(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler)

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