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Stocks hit record highs as investors reward solid earnings

 Wall Street
Investors are watching a busy week of corporate earnings.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Stocks steadily gained ground Wednesday and closed broadly higher on Wall Street as investors rewarded solid earnings results from several large companies.

The S&P 500 index got off to a weak start but gained steam and closed at a record high. Smaller stocks far outpaced larger ones and gave the Russell 2000 the biggest gain among major indexes. The S&P 500 rose 14.09 points, or 0.5%, to 3,019.56, putting it on track for a weekly gain.

Boeing and Caterpillar weighed down the Dow Jones industrial average. It fell 79.22 points, or 0.3%, to 27,269.97.

The Nasdaq gained ground all day and also closed at a record, up 70.10 points, or 0.8%, to 8,321.50.

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Technology stocks were the brightest spot in the market. A solid earnings report from Texas Instruments pushed the chipmaker’s stock higher and made the sector the biggest gainer.

Industrial stocks moved broadly higher after UPS beat Wall Street’s financial forecasts. The solid results from the delivery service counteracted steep drops from Boeing and Caterpillar, which both reported weak results. Anthem sank 4.5% after the insurer reported higher costs. UnitedHealth Group lost 1.5%. The healthcare sector fell broadly.

Corporate results have been mixed this week, though investors are jumping on some of the best performers during this latest round. This is a heavy week for financial results, with nearly 150 major companies reporting results through Friday. Stocks have been volatile over the last few weeks as investors assess the results to gain a better picture of the overall economy.

Investors have been treading cautiously as the trade war between the U.S. and China looms over corporate earnings. The uncertainty could continue to sap business confidence, said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

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“Companies across the world are holding back on capital expenditures as uncertainty reigns supreme,” he wrote in a note to investors.

Looking ahead, the market will remain focused on central banks, particularly the Federal Reserve, as they take measures to support economic growth. Investors expect the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates next week.

Stocks continued to rise and fall on their earnings results.

Roomba maker iRobot plummeted 16.9% after slashing its profit and revenue forecasts because of the U.S. trade war with China.

Tupperware Brands plunged 19.1% after the maker of plastic storage containers chopped its profit forecast for the year following a weak second quarter. The company cited lower consumer spending in all of its regions.

Texas Instruments rose 7.4% after surprising investors with a solid profit and sales forecast, helping to ease concerns on Wall Street about weak demand because of the U.S.-China trade war. Chipmakers have been under pressure because of fears that sales in China would feel the brunt of tariffs and technology restrictions.

UPS rose 8.7% as demand for next-day delivery service pushed its second quarter financial results past Wall Street’s forecasts. The company has been expanding its delivery service options to meet growing demand from online shopping.

Benchmark crude oil fell 89 cents to settle at $55.88 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell 65 cents to close at $63.18 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline was unchanged at $1.86 per gallon.

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Gold rose $2.70 to $1,422.80 per ounce and silver rose 14 cents to $16.55 per ounce.

The dollar fell to 108.20 Japanese yen from 108.26 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1136 from $1.1150.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.05% from 2.07% late Tuesday.


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