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US: Wall Street edges up on heavy earnings day; Fed on tap

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 06:44

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[NEW YORK] 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.

Ford shares dropped 4.4 per cent and General Motors fell 2.9 per cent, as major automakers posted declines in US new vehicle sales for April.

After the market closed, Apple shares fell more than one per cent after the company reported a surprise drop in iPhone sales for the quarter. Apple shares had gained 0.6 per cent 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 US employment report.

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Market voices on:

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 is approaching record highs during an earnings season that has generally exceeded expectations.

Overall, profits at S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 13.9 per cent 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 rose 36.43 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 20,949.89, the S&P 500 gained 2.83 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 2,391.16 and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.76 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 6,095.37.

The technology sector rose 0.3 per cent, its fourth straight day of gains. Industrials gained 0.5 per cent, helped by airlines shares after Delta said its passenger unit revenue increased one per cent in April.

Energy shares fell 0.5 per cent as oil prices weakened.

The S&P 500 has climbed 11.8 per cent since President Donald Trump's Nov 8 election, fuelled 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 tumbled 24.4 per cent after the chipmaker's second-quarter gross margins forecast raised some concerns. The stock was the biggest per centage decliner in the S&P 500.

Archer Daniels Midland sank 8.9 per cent and CVS Health fell 3.6 per cent after their respective quarterly reports.

Coach shares rose 11.4 per cent, 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 favoured decliners.

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

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

REUTERS

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