Wall Street opens flat as earnings from some big names disappoint

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks were little changed in early trading on Thursday (July 20) after the S&P and the Nasdaq touched all-time highs as earnings from some big names disappointed.

Qualcomm fell 4.4 per cent after the chipmaker's forecast missed estimates. Cigarette maker Philip Morris was down 2.8 per cent after its quarterly profit came in below expectations. Home Depot was off 2.7 per cent and weighed on the Dow and the S&P.

Still, overall earnings continue to beat expectations which, along with a rally in technology shares, helped all three major indexes to close at a record high on Wednesday.

Analysts are estimating an 8.7 per cent rise in second-quarter earnings and a 4.6 per cent increase in revenue for the S&P 500 companies from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Visa, eBay, Capital One Financial are due to report results after the closing bell.

"The surge in stock prices is showing no signs of letting up as corporate America's earnings power continue to expand," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. "The mostly better-than-expected results are lifting investors' confidence - a basic fundamental positive for equities markets."

The S&P 500 tech sector, which has been the best performing sector this year, broke its previous record closing high that had held since March 2000 in the midst of the dot.com and Y2K tech stocks bubble.

Microsoft will report results after the market close. Other major tech names such as Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon are due to report results next week.

At 9.48am ET (9.48pm Singapore time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 10.05 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 21,630.7; and the S&P 500 was up 0.87 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 2,474.70. The Nasdaq Composite was down 1.25 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 6,383.79.

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the energy index's 0.53 per cent rise leading the advancers.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,383 to 1,168. On the Nasdaq, 1,172 issues fell and 1,167 advanced.