Wall Street eked out a small gain on Wednesday as optimism over a spate of upbeat earnings was offset by jitters over rising bond yields and corporate costs.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 59.7 points, or 0.25 percent, to 24,083.83, the S&P 500 gained 4.84 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,639.4 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.62 points, or 0.05 percent, to 7,003.74.
All three major U.S. indexes fluctuated in choppy trading and the Dow flirted with its sixth consecutive decline during much of the session, which would continue its longest losing streak since an 8-day slide in March 2017.
“I think there’s a bit of profit-taking churning through the market, and at the end of the day this is what a return to normal looks like,” said Chris Wolfe, chief investment officer of First Republic Private Wealth Management in San Francisco. “It’s messy, it’s choppy, and it’s far more normal that what we’ve been used to over the last five to seven years.”
The 10-year Treasury yield, a benchmark for global borrowing costs, again breached the 3 percent level as government debt issuance surged due to a revenue shortfall related to the massive tax overhaul.
Shares of Boeing were up 4.6 percent after the company posted better-than-expected profits amid strong commercial airliner sales, leading it to raise its forecasts after a record 2017.
However, Twitter dropped 3.5 percent after the social media company said it expects a slowdown in revenue growth and increasing costs, overshadowing its otherwise upbeat earnings report.
That followed Caterpillar’s 6.2 percent decline on Tuesday, when despite its earnings beat, investors were spooked by the company’s warning of higher costs.
“It’s become increasingly important that you have to beat on sales, you have to beat on earnings and you have to raise your guidance,” said Wolfe. “Investors are looking for that trifecta.”
Facebook was up slightly ahead of its earnings, expected after the bell. The social media company has recently come under fire over its use of consumer data.
Comcast rose 2.1 percent after the largest U.S. cable company confirmed its $31 billion bid for Sky on the heels of its better-than-expected earnings report.
So far, 31 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings, 81.2 percent of which came in above consensus estimates. Analysts now expect first-quarter earnings growth of 22 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Of the 11 major S&P 500 sector indexes, 7 were in negative territory, led by Real Estate, Technology, and Financials.
The CBOE Volatility index, an indicator of short-term stock market volatility, jumped to 18.67 points, its highest level in more than a week.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.50-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.41-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
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