Stocks Move Broadly Higher, Led by Technology Companies

(AP) —

U.S. stocks moved broadly higher in afternoon trading Wednesday on Wall Street, reversing course from a downturn a day earlier that ended an eight-day winning streak.

Technology and health care-companies led the gains. Microsoft rose 0.5% and Cisco systems added 0.7%. Drug developer Gilead Sciences climbed 2.2%.

Delta Air Lines was the first major U.S. company to report quarterly earnings and it easily beat forecasts. The company’s shares rose, as did those of other airlines, including American Airlines Group and Southwest Airlines. Levi Strauss also gained ground after swinging to a quarterly profit in its first period as a publicly traded company.

As corporate earnings reports start to trickle in, investors were also keeping a wary eye on global economic developments. Analysts expect first-quarter earnings for the S&P 500 index to contract for the first time in nearly three years and are closely tracking forecasts for the remainder of the 2019.

Investors were also closely watching what central banks say, or don’t say. The European Central Bank left its policy goals and interest rates unchanged Wednesday as it weighs looming risks to the region’s economy from trade disputes. The Federal Reserve is set to release minutes from its latest policy meeting later Wednesday.

Despite a downturn in stocks on Tuesday, the broader market has been steadily gaining in 2019. The S&P 500 is up 15% for the year.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index was 0.2% higher as of 1:34 p.m. Eastern Time. The 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 11 points, or less than 0.1%, to 26,138, due entirely to a drop in Boeing. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, gained 0.4%.

Small-company stocks, which investors tend to favor when they’re feeling bullish about the economy, rose more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 picked up 1%.

WHEELS UP: Delta Air Lines shares lifted off after it gave investors a better than-expected quarterly report and forecast. The stock jumped as much as 2% before giving up some of its early gains. It shares gained 1.3%.

The airline’s profit surged 30% as ticket sales and the renewal of a deal with American Express helped lift revenue. It is also projecting a strong second quarter, giving investors a profit forecast that is mostly above expectations.

BLUE JEANS IN THE BLACK: Levi Strauss & Co. climbed 5.2% after the jeans and clothing maker told investors it swung to a profit in its first quarter since going public.

A 7% increase in revenue drove profit during the quarter, indicating that investments online and in its denim products are paying off. The company now expects to invest as much as $200 million to open 100 new stores over the next year as well as invest in other areas. It currently operates roughly 800 stores globally.

SLIPPERY QUARTER: WD-40, which makes the popular lubricant for home and industrial uses, fell 4.5% after its fiscal second-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street forecasts.

MUTED INFLATION: Bond prices rose, sending yields lower, after the government reported that a key measure of consumer price inflation remained in check last month. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which is used to set interest rates on mortgages and many other kinds of loans, fell to 2.46% from 2.50%.

Banks lagged the market, as the lower yields also mean less potential profit on loans. Wells Fargo slid 1.1%.

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