US stocks: Wall Street edges higher as earnings boost confidence

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Published: July 20, 2015 10:06:38 PM

U.S. stocks were slightly higher in late morning trading on Monday as better-than-expected earnings from big companies overshadowed a fall in commodities.

U.S. stocks were slightly higher in late morning trading on Monday as better-than-expected earnings from big companies overshadowed a fall in commodities.

Shortly after trading began, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added to its gains from last week and touched a record for the third straight day as investors shift their focus to earnings from concerns surrounding Greece and China.

Gold prices plunged as much as 4 percent to their lowest in more than five years while copper prices hit their lowest in nearly two weeks. Oil prices fell too on signs of a growing glut in refined products.

The dollar index was up marginally at $97.87. It had earlier hit a three-month high due to expectations of a Federal Reserve rate hike this year.

“The commodity markets are lower which are a concern because if those prices fall then economic growth isn’t as strong as we thought,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

On Friday, strong earnings from Google pushed the tech-heavy Nasdaq to a record close, which gained 4.3 percent for the week, its largest weekly gain since October while the S&P 500 stopped just short of its record high.

Tech earnings will continue to be in focus this week with IBM reporting after the close on Monday and other big tech giants such as Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft expected to report later this week.

Of the companies that have reported earnings so far, 71 percent have reported earnings above analyst expectations, above the 63 percent that typically beat in a quarter.

However, only 51 percent have beaten on revenue, below the 61 percent.

U.S. companies were expected to post their worst sales decline in nearly six years in the second quarter, in part due to the strong dollar that reduces the value of U.S. companies’ overseas income. Profit is expected to have fallen 2.9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters estimates.

“Revenue growth is very weak and unless you see some sustainable growth, we’ll continue to see sideways movement for the rest of the year,” said Nolte.

At 11:02 a.m. ET (1502 GMT) on Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 13.89 points, or 0.08 percent, at 18,100.34, the S&P 500 was up 1.54 points, or 0.07 percent, at 2,128.18 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 11.84 points, or 0.23 percent, at 5,221.98.

Six of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were higher with the technology index leading the advancers with a 0.46 percent rise.

PayPal Holdings was up 5.2 percent to $40.39, on its trading debut after it split from e-commerce company eBay .

Vivint Solar soared 44.8 percent to $15.76 after solar company SunEdison said it would buy the company in a deal valued at about $2.2 billion, including debt. SunEdison was up 3.8 percent to $32.76.

Horizon Pharma jumped as much as 6.5 percent to a record of $39.49, after the Irish drugmaker raised its full-year sales forecast.

Hasbro was up 6.3 percent at $83.12 after the U.S. toymaker reported a lower-than-expected decline in quarterly revenue, helped by strong demand for its “Jurassic World”- and “Star Wars”-themed toys.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,916 to 982. On the Nasdaq, 1,632 issues fell and 961 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 29 new 52-week highs and 27 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 99 new highs and 89 new lows.

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