US stocks edge higher as Boeing, Caterpillar gain

A trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, Oct 22, 2019.
A trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, Oct 22, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks rose modestly on Wednesday (Oct 23) following a mixed round of earnings that lifted Boeing and Caterpillar but pummelled semiconductor shares.

Boeing gained 1.1 per cent despite missing analyst expectations by a wide margin as the 737 Max crisis continued to weigh on results.

Investors took heart that the company confirmed it still expects to win regulatory approval this year to resume flights on the Max.

Similarly, Caterpillar slashed its profit forecast, citing global economic weakness. Yet shares still gained 1.2 per cent as the company said it would pare back production of new equipment, raising hopes it could avert a supply glut.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.2 per cent at 26,833.95.

The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 0.3 per cent to 3,004.53, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.2 per cent to 8,119.79.

After a mostly positive set of results in the initial earnings period, this week's releases have had both winners and losers, with companies sometimes experiencing big moves.

Semiconductor shares slumped after Texas Instruments as it reported an 11 per cent drop in quarterly revenues to US$3.8 billion (S$5.1 billion), saying "most markets weakened further."

The company slumped 7.5 per cent.

In non-earnings news, Facebook jumped 2.1 per cent as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg parried tough questioning in a Capitol Hill hearing over the company's data security practices and plans for digital currency Libra.

Zuckerberg said the plan for Libra could be scaled back if it cannot win approval as a new currency for global exchanges.