Stocks End Modestly Higher as Earnings Come in; Oil Surges

NEW YORK (AP) -

U.S. stocks finished broadly higher Wednesday, giving the S&P 500 its third gain in as many days.

Energy companies rose more than the rest of the market, riding a big upturn in crude oil prices. Solid gains in industrial stocks and retailers outweighed losses among food and beverage companies, technology stocks and banks.

Investors continued to bid up companies that reported positive earnings or outlooks. Not all companies delivered welcome results. IBM slumped 7.5 percent, single-handedly pulling the Dow Jones industrial average into the red.

The S&P 500 index rose 2.25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,708.64. The Dow slid 38.56 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,748.07. The Nasdaq composite gained 14.14 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,295.24. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 3.76 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,583.56.

The major stock indexes are all on track to finish the week higher.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.87 percent from 2.83 percent late Tuesday.

Investors continued to sift through corporate earnings reports. Financial analysts are forecasting the strongest growth in seven years for S&P 500 companies, partly because of a resurgent global economy, but also because of expectations that last year’s corporate tax cut will have on corporate balance sheets.

Roughly 10 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported results so far this earnings season, and some 67 percent of those have delivered both earnings and revenue that exceeded financial analysts’ expectations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

United Continental rose 4.8 percent to $70.58 after the airline company raised its earnings outlook for the year.

IBM was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding 7.5 percent to $148.79. That’s its biggest loss in five years. The technology company’s results failed to impress investors.

Oil futures surged, pushing closer to $70 a barrel. The pickup in the price of crude came as Reuters published a report citing unnamed industry sources saying that Saudi Arabia would be happy to see crude oil prices hit $100 a barrel.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.95, or 2.9 percent, to settle at $68.47 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added $1.90, or 2.7 percent, to close at $73.48 per barrel in London.

The surge in oil prices helped lift energy stocks. Newfield Exploration added 5.9 percent to $28.89.

The dollar gained to 107.26 yen from Tuesday’s 107.02 yen. The euro rose to $1.2377 from $1.2367.

Gold rose $4 to $1,353.50 an ounce. Silver gained 46 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $17.25 an ounce. Copper added 8 cents to $3.16 a pound.

In other energy futures trading, heating oil rose 3 cents to $2.09 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline picked up 3 cents to $2.07 a gallon. Natural gas was little changed at $2.74 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Major stock indexes in Europe finished mostly higher. Germany’s DAX was ended flat, while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 1.3 percent. Indexes in Asia ended higher. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.4 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.7 percent. Seoul’s Kospi rose 1.1 percent.