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Wall Street edges higher as earnings season picks up pace

Reuters/ 17 Jul 17 | 11:29 PM

The Wall Street bull is seen in the financial district in New York

US stocks edged higher and stayed near record levels in early afternoon trading on Monday, with investors waiting for big US companies to report their quarterly earnings.

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Analysts are estimating an 8.2 per cent rise in second-quarter earnings for the S&P 500 companies from a year earlier.

This follows a robust first quarter when US companies posted their best earnings since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Microsoft, IBM and Johnson and Johnson are scheduled to report results this week. Netflix will report results after the market close on Monday.

Earnings will be closely watched to see if high valuations are justified in the face of tepid inflation and a recent patch of mixed economic data.

The S&P 500 has been trading at about 18 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months, compared with the long-term average of 15 times.

"After new highs that we saw last week, the market deserves a rest as investors await big earnings this week," said Dave Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management.

"Our view is that right now the equity market is a one-legged stool that's driven by earnings and we're pretty optimistic about earnings but if that should falter, the market will falter."

At 12:38 PM ET (1638 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 14.93 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 21,652.67, the S&P 500 was up 2.42 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 2,461.69.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 9.60 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 6,322.07.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the materials index's 0.37 per cent rise leading the advancers.

The financial sector was little changed after results and forecasts on Friday by big banks such as JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo failed to excite investors.

Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs will report results later this week.

The Dow and the S&P hit record highs on Friday after weak economic data dulled prospects of more interest rate hikes this year.

Shares of BlackRock fell 3.4 per cent after the world's biggest asset manager's quarterly profit came in below expectations.

Meal-kit company Blue Apron Holdings fell 10.3 per cent after an Amazon unit filed a trademark for a competing meal-kit service earlier this month. Amazon was up 1 per cent and provided the biggest boost to the Nasdaq.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,709 to 1,112. On the Nasdaq, 1,570 issues rose and 1,183 fell.

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Company Price Gain (%)
M & M902.702.16
Tata Steel562.800.82
Hind. Unilever1,604.050.65
Sun Pharma.Inds.557.550.53


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