Another wobbly day of trading on Wall Street ended with more gains for stocks Wednesday, as the latest batch of company earnings reports kept investors in a buying mood.
The S&P 500 rose 0.9 percent after having briefly dipped into the red in the early going. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.5 percent. The latest gains have the indexes on pace for solid gains this week.
Traders bid up shares in several companies that reported solid quarterly results, which helped lift the broader market. Google parent Alphabet jumped 7.5 percent for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after it said its digital ad business propelled a 36 percent jump in profit last quarter. Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices rose 5.1 percent after it reported surprisingly strong fourth-quarter financial results and gave investors an encouraging sales forecast.
About three-fourths of the companies in the benchmark S&P 500 index rose, led by communication services and technology stocks. Health care companies also accounted for a big share of the gains. Big retailers and other companies that rely directly on consumer spending fell. Amazon slid 0.4 percent and Gap fell 3.3 percent.
Most of the companies that have reported results for the last three months of 2021 have delivered earnings and revenue that topped Wall Street’s forecasts, despite the higher costs they face due to rising inflation.
“So, far we’re not seeing the kind of margin pressure that people maybe worried about with rising input costs,” said Tom Hainlin, national investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “Fundamentally, that’s been a support.”
The S&P 500 rose 42.84 points to 4,589.38. The Dow gained 224.09 points to 35,629.33, and the Nasdaq rose 71.54 to 14,417.55.
Small company stocks bucked the broader market rally. The Russell 2000 index fell 21.22 points, or 1 percent, to 2,029.52.
Bond yields fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.77 percent from 1.80 percent late Tuesday.
Major stock indexes are on track for solid gains this week, a welcome turnaround from January’s losses. Last month’s slide came as Wall Street faced several threats including rising inflation, the prospect of higher interest rates, and COVID-19’s continued drag on the economic recovery.
Inflation remains a key concern as rising costs threaten profit margins and put more pressure on consumer spending. The Federal Reserve intends to raise interest rates to try cooling inflation, which is at a four-decade high. Investors expect the first rate hike in March and at least three more in 2022.
Investors are reviewing the latest round of corporate earnings to gauge the damage that rising costs have had on different industries and how companies will deal with inflation moving forward.
“You’re seeing strong demand in technology from companies continuing to drive productivity and overcome supply challenges and overcome labor shortages,” Hainlin said. “Companies don’t do that if they’re terribly worried about the economy tipping into recession.”
With about 40 percent of S&P companies having reported quarterly results so far this earnings season, about 64 percent have posted earnings and revenue that topped analyst estimates, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Marathon Petroleum jumped 6.1 percent and scientific instrument and laboratory supplies company Thermo Fisher Scientific rose 1.7 percent after reporting solid financial results.
Some company earnings fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.
PayPal slumped 24.6 percent, its worst trading day since it split from eBay in 2015 after reporting a weak quarter and subdued guidance.
Facebook parent company Meta Platforms plunged 21.4 percent in after-hours trading after its latest quarterly earnings fell well short of Wall Street’s estimates.
Several big companies will release earnings later this week, including Amazon.com and Ford.
By Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga