Stocks turned slightly higher heading into afternoon trading Thursday, keeping the S&P 500 on track for its best monthly gain since 2015.
A mixed bag of corporate earnings kept the market uneven earlier in the day as concerns linger over trade and economic growth. Still, the S&P 500 index could finish the month strongly, possibly also seeing its best January since 1989. That marks a sharp turnaround from last month, which was the worst December since 1931.
Facebook jumped after reporting solid results for its fourth quarter, helping to lift the Nasdaq composite. General Electric soared after reporting growth in key segments. Microsoft and Visa fell.
Economic reports in Europe and China pointed to slower growth, and debate over Britain’s exit from the European Union continued with no resolution in sight.
Trade talks between the U.S. and China entered a second day. President Donald Trump is voicing optimism before he meets with representatives from China, but said there would be “no final deal” until he sits down with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 24 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,705 as of 12:16 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4 points, or 0.9 percent, to 25,006. The Nasdaq composite climbed 108 points, or 1.5 percent, to 7,291.
ANALYSTS VIEW: “Overall, we’re still encouraged that this earning season is comforting to people,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial.
Strong results and outlooks from big U.S. companies seem to be calming some of the broader recession fears, he said. Results from the financial sector earlier this month was particularly encouraging.
LIKE: Facebook beat Wall Street’s profit and revenue forecasts, despite an increase in spending on privacy and security. The stock rose 12.7 percent to $169.56.
The social media company has been plagued by privacy scandals and the threat of regulation, but those haven’t appreciably slowed its expansion. Its user base grew to 2.32 billion, up 9 percent from a year earlier and higher than analysts’ forecasts.
It’s a marked difference from last July, when the company warned of slowing revenue growth and suffered a 19 percent drop in value. That marked the worst drop in stock market history.
GENERAL ELECTRIC: The industrial conglomerate reported mixed results for the fourth quarter, but revenue and profit was still higher across most of its segments. The company has been cutting costs and spinning off units for years in an effort to boost its bottom line.
The stock rose 15 percent to $10.48.
The company also reached a $1.5 billion settlement with the Department of Justice over its subprime mortgage business before the 2008 financial crisis.
MICROSOFT: The technology giant swung to a profit in its latest quarter profit, driven by revenue growth at its cloud-computing platform. The results beat forecasts, but the company’s key personal computing segment fell short of forecasts. The stock fell 1.4 percent to $104.85.
The company is trying to rival Amazon as a cloud-computing provider with its Azure platform. That platform saw 76 percent revenue growth during the most recent quarter.
U.S.-CHINA TRADE: Trade talks continue Thursday between the U.S. and China. The high-level talks are aimed at settling a months’ long trade war that has raised fears of slower economic growth. Industrial and technology companies have warned about slowing sales because of the trade impasse.
EUROPEAN GROWTH: Investor sentiment was hit in Europe after official data showed the 19-country eurozone economy grew only 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three-month period. Italy fell into recession, darkening the outlook for the country, where the populist government has been in a dispute with EU officials over its spending plans.
OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX fell 0.8 percent. The CAC 40 in France rose 0.4 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 1.6 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 1.1 percent. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong climbed 1.1 percent.