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S&P 500, Dow up on earnings lift, Nasdaq off session low

By Shreyashi Sanyal and Bansari Mayur Kamdar

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Wednesday after upbeat results from a host of companies partially offset a shaky start to the fourth-quarter reporting season, with the Nasdaq bouncing from its session low.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq briefly shed more than 10% from its record closing high on Nov. 19, also staying below its 200-day moving average on an intraday basis, a key technical support level. A correction is confirmed when an index closes 10% or more lower than its record closing level.

Apple Inc and Cisco weighed the most on the S&P 500 technology sector, while Nvidia Corp led falls among semiconductors.

“We are getting close to down 10% on the Nasdaq … and a lot of the tailwinds are turning against interest rate-sensitive sectors,” said Joshua Chastant, senior investment analyst at GuideStone Capital Management.

Upbeat quarterly reports from companies including UnitedHealth Group Inc, Procter & Gamble Co, Bank of America Corp and Morgan Stanley outweighed the gloomy sentiment on tech by early afternoon.

UnitedHealth rose 1.8% after the health insurer beat market estimates for quarterly profit on strong demand in its health insurance business.

Procter & Gamble gained 4.3% as it raised its annual sales forecast, benefiting from resurgent demand for cleaning products due to a spike in COVID-19 infections.

Bank of America added 1.2% on reporting a jump in fourth-quarter profit, while Morgan Stanley rose 2.6% after posting quarterly earnings above market expectations. Both banks wrapped up results from big lenders on a positive note.

Most other big banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs Group Inc reported disappointing results, knocking down the S&P 500 financial sector and banks subsector from record highs.

“JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs set the bar very low for Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. Even though the reports were not fantastic, they were better than what those lower expectations were,” said Dennis Dick, proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas.

Earnings from S&P 500 companies are expected to grow 23.1% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, according to IBES estimates from Refinitiv.

Investors are now waiting for next week’s Federal Reserve policy meeting for more cues on the central bank’s plan to control inflation. Data last week showed U.S. consumer prices increased strongly in December, adding up to the largest annual rise in inflation in nearly four decades.

At 12:08 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 93.92 points, or 0.27%, at 35,462.39, the S&P 500 was up 11.43 points, or 0.25%, at 4,588.54 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 22.85 points, or 0.16%, at 14,529.74.

United Airlines fell 1.7% ahead of its fourth-quarter results after markets close.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.06-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.46-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded 11 new 52-week highs and six new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 18 new highs and 522 new lows.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Maju Samuel)


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