US stocks end mostly up but IBM hits Dow

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The S&P 500 eked out a small gain on energy, industrials, while the Dow ended lower after a volatile trading session.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, April 18, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished mostly higher on Wednesday (April 18) on largely upbeat corporate earnings reports and a surge in petroleum-linked equities, but the Dow was weighed down by IBM's disappointing outlook.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.2 per cent at 24,748.07 after IBM tumbled 7.6 per cent after its 2018 profit outlook that lagged analyst expectations.

But the broad-based S&P 500 edged up 0.1 per cent to end at 2,708.64, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.2 per cent to 7,295.24.

"Sideways days like this are okay, especially when we had a pretty good ramp-up so far this week," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

US stocks scored strong gains on Monday and Tuesday amid better-than-expected earnings reports that helped investors look past ongoing trade tensions between the US and China.

However, US businesses and farmers have grown increasingly concerned about the trade spat with China, according to the Federal Reserve's "beige book" survey released Wednesday.

Some companies reported higher prices for aluminum and steel following tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, the Fed said.

Despite the trade worries, the 12 Federal Reserve districts reported "modest to moderate" economic growth over the past six weeks and a generally upbeat outlook Airline shares surged after better-than-expected results from United Continental, which advanced 4.8 per cent. Southwest Airlines gained 2.8 per cent as investigators probed an emergency landing on a flight Tuesday that led to a fatality.

Another big transportation company, freight-rail company CSX, surged 7.9 percent after it reported earnings.

Petroleum-linked shares were another strong category after oil prices climbed to their highest level in more than three years. Dow-member Chevron gained 2 per cent, Halliburton 2.4 per cent and Apache 3.6 per cent.

Best Buy jumped 3.7 per cent as it unveiled a venture to sell new Amazon "smart" TVs in its stores. Amazon gained 1.6 per cent.

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