U.S. stocks edged higher in midday trading Friday as investors focused on another round of mostly solid corporate earnings.
Trading has been more subdued and cautious on Wall Street, following China’s report Thursday of a surge in cases of a new virus that raised fresh concerns about global economic growth. Solid gains from earlier in the week are holding and keeping the major indexes on track for weekly gains.
Technology companies drove most of the gains. Chipmaker Nvidia was a standout with an 8.2% jump after it handily beat analysts’ profit forecasts for the fourth quarter.
Investors continue to pour through corporate earnings reports. Online travel company Expedia surged 11.4% and Sharpie maker Newell Brands rose 4.6% on solid earnings.
Real estate companies and utilities held up well. Energy and health-care companies lagged the market.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.58% from 1.61% late Thursday.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.1% as of 11:50 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 26 points, or 0.1%, to 29,396. The Nasdaq rose 0.2%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 0.1%. European and Asian markets were mixed.
WEEKLY RECAP: A strong first half of the week is giving way to a muted finish as investors grow more cautious following updates on the new coronavirus outbreak. The S&P 500 is on track for a weekly gain of 1.5%, while the Nasdaq is aiming for a 2.3% gain. Both set records earlier in the week.
EARNINGS UPDATE: More than three quarters of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings and the results so far show solid growth. Companies are expected to report overall profit growth of just under 1% when all the reports are in, according to estimates from FactSet.
There are still several big companies that have yet to report results and are on deck for next week. Walmart will release its report on Tuesday. Campbell Soup will report results on Thursday and Deere will report on Friday.
WEEK AHEAD: Investors are heading into a shortened week that is light on economic reports. Stock and bond markets are closed on Monday for the Presidents’ Day holiday. On Wednesday, the government will issue its report on producer prices, which measures inflation pressures before they reach consumers. Also, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its January meeting.
Wall Street will also get some updates on the health of the housing industry. The government will release data on housing starts on Wednesday and the National Association of Realtors will release January home-sales data on Friday.