NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street opened little changed on Friday as earnings rolled in, while investors braced for the first round of the closely contested French presidential election.
Centrist Emmanuel Macron is leading most opinion polls for the election's first round on Sunday and is expected to contest a second-round run-off with Marine Le Pen, head of the anti-European Union and anti-immigrant National Front.
"Although Macron has been labeled as favorite to become the next French President, an unexpected Marine Le Pen victory could deal a symbolic blow to the unity of the European Union and ultimately create a tidal wave of risk aversion," FXTM analyst Lukman Otunuga said in a note.
After a two-week losing streak, major indexes may cling on to their gains this week following Thursday's rally, which was driven partly by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's comments that an overhaul of the tax code would be unveiled very soon.
"The comments about the tax reform and generally good quarterly earnings are giving equities a bit of a boost," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James.
Of the 82 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Thursday afternoon, about 75 per cent have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the 71 per cent average for the past four quarters.
Overall, profits of S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 11.1 per cent in the quarter, the best since 2011.
At 9:38 a.m. ET (9:38 p.m Singapore time) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 7.04 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 20,585.75 and the S&P 500 was down 1.11 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 2,354.73. The Nasdaq Composite was down 4.74 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 5,912.03.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the telecommunications index's 0.53 percent fall leading the decliners.