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US: Corporate earnings drive shares in opposite directions


[NEW YORK] A bruising earnings report from industrial giant 3M dragged the Dow lower on Thursday but strong results from Microsoft and Facebook boosted the Nasdaq.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5 per cent - recovering much of the ground lost early in the session - to close the day at 26,495.56.

The broad-based S&P 500 was up for much of the session but slipped just before the close to finish essentially flat at 2,926.17. Meanwhile, the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.2 per cent to end the day at 8,118.68, below its highest point.

3M, which makes a wide variety of industrial goods and tools as well as everyday items such as Post-It notes, plunged 13 per cent after reporting weaker-than-expected profits on falling sales.

The company also said it was cutting 2,000 jobs worldwide, citing weakness in key markets.

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But Facebook surged 5.8 per cent following its report, while Microsoft jumped 3.3 per cent, lifting its market capitalization above US$1 trillion.

"It's 100 per cent about earnings," analyst Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investment told AFP. "Investors digest a lot of data and we are getting mixed signals with respect to earnings but mostly positive."

And he noted that even the "few stocks that go down don't go down for many days."

Among others reporting results, Tesla Motors fell 4.3 per cent and UPS slumped 8.1 per cent.

After markets closed, Amazon reported earnings had more than doubled in the first quarter to US$3.6 billion, and its share price rose in after-hours trading.

Analysts also were encouraged by US data showing an unexpected jump in durable goods in March, rising on strong demand for aircraft and communications equipment along with record auto sales.


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