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US:Wall St little changed with eyes on earnings

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[WASHINGTON] US stocks were little changed on Thursday amid a flood of quarterly earnings reports, while investors assessed President Donald Trump's tax reform plan.

The one-page plan, unveiled on Wednesday, proposed deep tax cuts for many businesses, but offered no detail on how it would be paid for without increasing the deficit.

US stocks snapped a two-day rally to end lower on Wednesday after the plan was unveiled. The prospects of hefty tax cuts have been a major driver of the post-election rally since November.

"Yesterday, you saw some selling but it didn't develop into an outright heavy pressure day," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth.

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At 9.38 am ET (1338 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 11.43 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 20,986.52, the S&P 500 was up 0.14 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 2,387.59 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 6.55 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 6,031.78.

Six of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, lead by a 0.35 per cent gain in the technology index. PayPal jumped to an all-time high of US$47.50 after the company raised its full-year earnings forecast.

However, a more than 2 percent drop in oil prices weighed on the energy sector, which fell 0.8 percent.

Investors are keeping a close watch on the first-quarter earnings season to gauge fundamental performance in the face of lofty valuations.

Of the 181 S&P 500 companies that have released results so far, nearly 77 percent have reported earnings above analysts' expectations. In a typical quarter, about 64 per cent of the companies top earnings estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

REUTERS

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