US stocks close at record highs ahead of key earnings reports

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NYSE stocks wall street Image Credit: AP

New York: All three major US stock indexes eked out record closing highs for a second straight session on Monday as investors were optimistic heading into a slew of earnings from heavyweight technology and internet names this week, while caution ahead of a Federal Reserve policy meeting kept the market in check.

More than one-third of the S&P 500 was set to report quarterly results this week, including Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp, Inc and Google parent Alphabet Inc, the four largest US companies by market value. Apple rose 0.3 per cent.

Shares of Tesla Inc, which reported quarterly results after the market close, were up about 1 per cent in after-hours trading. The stock ended the regular session up 2.2 per cent.

The vast majority of second-quarter earnings have handily beaten analysts’ expectations so far, bumping up the already huge projected growth for the second quarter, according to Refinitiv data.

“We continue to see positive surprises, and even with a lot of optimism and increased estimates going into earnings season, we’re still seeing companies exceed those expectations,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York, New York.

“As we get into the heart of (the earnings season) and we get industrials and more cyclical names, it will be interesting to see not only how much there is in terms of recovery but also is there any impact from some of these issues, meaning inflation, the spike in prices.” 3M Co, up 0.6 per cent, is due to report on Tuesday while Boeing Co, up 2 per cent, is set to report on Wednesday.

A two-day meeting of the Fed starts on Tuesday, and all eyes may be on whether the central bank expresses any new concerns about high inflation when it concludes its gathering on Wednesday.

In June, the Fed indicated it may start raising rates two times in 2023, which was sooner than previously expected.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 82.76 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 35,144.31, the S&P 500 gained 10.51 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 4,422.3 and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.72 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 14,840.71.

Continued optimism over second-quarter earnings has helped offset recent concerns over the market impact of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

US-listed Chinese shares fell after Beijing last week announced new rules on private tutoring and online education firms, the latest in a series of crackdowns on the technology sector that have roiled financial markets.

E-commerce company Alibaba Group and search engine Baidu Inc, two of the largest Chinese stocks listed in the United States, were lower. Alibaba fell 7.2 per cent and Baidu dropped 6 per cent.

Recent losses in Chinese stocks have been steeper than those recorded during the height of the Sino-US trade war in 2018, mainly due to Beijing’s targeting of large technology firms.

Among other decliners, weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp fell 3.3 per cent after a classified aeronautics development program caused the firm to miss profit estimates.

Volume on US exchanges was 9.77 billion shares, compared with the 9.82 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.30-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.28-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 47 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 77 new highs and 160 new lows.