Stocks Rise as Investors Focus on Solid Corporate Earnings

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Trader Peter Tuchman wears a Casper sleep mask as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange non Thursday, before the Casper IPO begins trading. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stocks rose in midday trading Thursday as investors continued focusing on the latest round of corporate earnings and China cut tariffs on key imports as part of a trade war truce.

China is also promising tax cuts and other help to businesses to offset the economic blow from the virus outbreak that has put its economy on lockdown. The measures come as the world’s second-largest economy cuts $75 billion on tariffs affecting imports from the U.S. as part of a previously signed “Phase 1” trade agreement.

Investors continued rewarding solid corporate earnings. Twitter and Coach brand owner Tapestry were among the standouts in the early going following their latest financial results.

Technology and communications companies led the gains. Information technology consulting firm Cognizant rose 8.3%.

Bond yields held steady with the yield on the 10-year Treasury at 1.65%.

Energy companies lagged the market.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.3% as of 11:40 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 86 points, or 0.3%, to 29,376. The Nasdaq rose 0.6%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell slightly.

OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Asia jumped. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 jumped 2.4% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 2.6%. South Korea’s Kospi rallied 2.9%.

European markets also rose.

TWEET STORM: Twitter surged 17.3% after the messaging service reported surprisingly good growth for daily users and solid revenue in the fourth quarter. The most recent quarter marks the first time the company’s revenue topped $1 billion.

IN THE BAG: Coach parent Tapestry rose 3.9% after the company’s fiscal second-quarter profit and revenue beat Wall Street forecasts. The company, which also owns Kate Spade, did warn investors about a potential hit to its sales and profit because of the virus outbreak in China.

BAD TASTE: Yum Brands fell 4.4% after the operator of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC restaurants reported weak fourth-quarter profit. The company also faces financial pain moving forward from the virus outbreak impact. China made up 27% of KFC’s total sales and 17% of Pizza Hut’s sales in the fourth quarter.

FRIENDLY MATTRESS: Online mattress pioneer Casper Sleep soared 25% in its public debut. The company, which was founded in 2014, has expanded beyond online selling, opening 60 Casper stores and selling to 18 retail partners like Target and Amazon. It has plans to eventually expand to more than 200 stores in North America.

ECONOMICS ON TAP: The government will release its closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday, along with several other economic indicators. A solid jobs market has been a key factor behind the strong U.S. economy. Economists expect the January jobs report to show more growth and they expect the unemployment to remain stable at 3.5%.

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