US stocks gain on mostly solid earnings

VIDEO: REUTERS
Traders work after the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on April 18, 2019.
Traders work after the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on April 18, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished modestly higher on Thursday (April 18) following a batch of mostly solid corporate earnings and a successful market debut of technology company Pinterest.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.4 per cent to 26,559.54.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 0.2 per cent at 2,905.03, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index edged up less than 0.1 per cent to 7,998.06.

Following some better-than-expected results, analysts now project that companies in the S&P 500 will report a 2.3 per cent decline in earnings-per-share in the first quarter, a bit better than the 2.7 per cent drop seen on the eve of the reporting season, according to CFRA Research.

"There were lowered expectations of profitability, so businesses are doing a little better than expected," said Brian Battle, a director at Performance Trust Capital Partners.

"The market has rallied a really long way," he added. "We need more good news to push higher from here."

Several companies gained following earnings, including American Express, Honeywell International and Union Pacific, while Alcoa and Schlumberger retreated.

US retail sales rose 1.6 per cent in March to US$514.1 billion (S$697 billion), thanks in part to especially robust auto sales.

Analysts had expected an increase of 0.9 per cent.

The San Francisco-based visual discovery service Pinterest surged nearly 30 per cent in its first session after an initial public offering raised US$1.4 billion.

Videoconferencing startup Zoom shot up 72.2 per cent after its IPO raised more than US$350 million.