After a sluggish start, stocks finish higher

Chipotle shares fall after the company said a shortage of pork meat was affecting earnings

Investors cheered moves by Google and credit-card companies on Wednesday and sent the stock market to a solid gain. Google helped set off a surge in technology stocks after it unveiled a low-cost wireless phone service.

Google's new wireless service, dubbed “Project Fi,” costs around $20 a month for basic service and charges customers for the amount of data they use. The low-cost plan puts the Internet search giant into competition with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Google's stock gained $6.25, or 1 percent, to $549.18.

For most of the day, the market looked like a driver given bad directions. Major indexes shuffled between slight gains and losses in morning trading before turning higher in the late afternoon. The gains were modest but shared widely: All 10 industries in the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose.

McDonald's said a strong dollar and restructuring charges weighed on its first-quarter results as a new CEO tries to turn the hamburger chain around. The company's sales continued to fall in the quarter, but its earnings beat Wall Street's estimates. McDonald's gained $2.97, or 3 percent, to $97.84.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, called the market's response to McDonald's earnings typical of the earnings season so far.

“It was pretty lousy report, but investors remain optimistic about the future,” Ablin said. “I think investors are willing to shrug off one bad quarter for earnings. We'll see what happens if we get a string of disappointments.”

The S&P 500 index rose 10.67 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,107.96. That's just 10 points shy of its record high reached on March 2.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 88.68 points, or 0.5 percent, to 18,038.27, and the Nasdaq composite picked up 21.07 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,035.17.

Visa and MasterCard surged following news that China plans to allow foreign companies to handle bank-card transactions. Visa's stock jumped $2.66, or 4 percent, to $68.01, while MasterCard gained $3.43, also 4 percent, to $91.20.

Among the big companies turning in quarterly results, Boeing reported higher profit and revenue for the first quarter. But the aircraft maker's sales missed estimates, while costs climbed for its 787 Dreamliner. Boeing dropped $2.14, or 1 percent, to $151.19.

Chipotle said bad weather and a shortage of pork slowed its sales growth at the start of the year. As a result, revenue for the first quarter fell short of Wall Street's targets. Chipotle said the issue could last until the end of the year. Chipotle's stock sank $51.29, or 7 percent, to $641.23.

Major markets finished mixed in Europe. France's CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent, while Germany's DAX dropped 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent.

In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.1 percent to finish at 20,133, the first time since April 14, 2000 that the index closed above 20,000 points. South Korea's Kospi was little changed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.3 percent and China's Shanghai Composite jumped 2.4 percent.

Back in the U.S., government bond prices fell, driving the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 1.98 percent from 1.91 percent late Tuesday.

In commodities trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 45 cents to $56.16 a barrel in New York. Brent crude rose 65 cents to $62.73 barrel in London.

In other futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, wholesale gasoline rose 3.6 cents to $1.925 a gallon, heating oil rose 1.8 cents to $1.871 a gallon and natural gas rose 3.1 cents to $2.606 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Precious and industrial metals closed lower. Gold dropped $16.20 to end at $1,186.920 an ounce, while silver slid 21 cents to $15.80 an ounce. Copper dropped 4 cents to $2.67.

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