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Stocks rise for fifth straight day, lifted by solid company earnings

Stocks rise for fifth straight day, lifted by solid company earnings
Trader Andrew Silverman works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Technology companies helped lead stocks broadly higher on Wall Street on Tuesday as strong earnings reports from several companies put investors in a buying mood.

The rally extended the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index’s winning streak to five days.

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Technology stocks, which have lagged the market in recent months, accounted for much of the rally. Financial firms were among the biggest laggards.

The latest batch of solid earnings reports came from companies including luxury retailers Ralph Lauren and Estee Lauder and media firms Viacom and Walt Disney.

Halfway through U.S. companies’ fourth-quarter earnings reporting season, the results have come in broadly ahead of analysts’ forecasts. However, that growth is expected to slow in the months ahead.

“Big companies reported some really good results today,” said Lindsey Bell, an investment strategist at CFRA. “While the overall earnings season isn’t all that impressive versus the past four quarters, it’s still a pretty decent quarter.”

The S&P 500 index rose 12.83 points, or 0.5%, to 2,737.70. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 172.15 points, or 0.7%, to 25,411.52. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite advanced 54.55 points, or 0.7%, to 7,402.08. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies ticked up 2.69 points, or 0.2%, to 1,520.23.

Technology stocks helped power the market’s gains. Apple climbed 1.7% to $174.18. Microsoft rose 1.4% to $107.22.

Investors continued to focus on corporate earnings, seeking clues to how companies gauge their prospects for higher profits amid signs of weaker global growth and uncertainty over the U.S.-China trade war.

The market got encouraging news from upscale clothing company Ralph Lauren, whose most recent results topped Wall Street analysts’ forecasts as it benefited from growth in Asia and Europe. More importantly, it raised its forecast despite some fears about an economic slowdown hitting those two continents. Its shares jumped 8.4% to $124.16.

Estee Lauder, which also reported better results and said it expects growth in Asia, leaped 11.6% to $152.02.

Leggett & Platt was among the retailers whose shares surged Tuesday on strong earnings. The home furnishings company climbed 9.8% to $44.88.

Viacom, an entertainment company that owns Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, rose 3% to $30.33 after reporting earnings that also beat analysts’ estimates. Disney reported its results after the market closed.

Not all companies boasted solid results. Higher spending on marketing and pressure from tariffs knocked profit down 68% at Church & Dwight, which owns the Arm & Hammer brand and is a major maker of household products. The results fell short of Wall Street’s forecasts, and the company’s shares dropped 7.5% to $60.46.

More than 68% of companies reporting earnings in the S&P 500 beat analyst forecasts during the most recent quarter. Those results, in part, helped drive the market’s best January in 32 years.

Analysts are warning that earnings growth could slow down substantially in the coming months. Companies have so far reported overall earnings growth of 16.2% in the latest quarter, according to data compiled by FactSet. However, analysts surveyed by FactSet expect earnings to shrink 1.3% in the current quarter and then to grow just 1.3% and 2.6% in the second and third quarters, respectively.

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U.S. crude oil fell 1.6% to $53.66 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 0.8% to $61.98 a barrel in London.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline fell 0.4% to $1.43 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.5% to $1.90 a gallon. Natural gas edged up 0.1% to $2.66 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.70% from 2.72%.

The dollar strengthened to 109.97 yen from 109.90 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1410 from $1.1432.

Gold was little changed at $1,319.20 an ounce. Silver fell 0.3% to $15.84 an ounce. Copper rose 0.8% to $2.82 a pound.

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