Friday, 28 October 2016

Stocks flat as earnings roll in, Comcast drags Nasdaq

U.S. stocks were little changed in a choppy session after the latest round of earnings reports, while a decline in Comcast shares pushed the Nasdaq into negative territory.

The S&P 500 healthcare index  rose 0.73 percent to help keep the S&P 500 near the unchanged mark, buoyed by strong results and forecasts from Bristol-Myers, up 5.5 percent and Celgene , up 6.6 percent. The two drugmakers were the top boosts to the S&P 500.

Profits at S&P 500 companies have largely exceeded analysts' estimates for the third quarter so far, setting up the first profit growth since the second quarter of 2015. Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data shows third-quarter earnings are now expected grow 2.6 percent, up from the 0.5 percent decline anticipated at the start of October.

Sectors linked to interest rates weighed, however, as yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes touched a five-month high of 1.87 percent.

The S&P real estate sector was down 2.4 percent and on track for its worst decline in five weeks, while utilities  shed 0.4 percent.

"Essentially we’ve seen earnings, there are pockets of strength and weakness, but on the whole earnings have come in better than expected," David Lefkowitz, senior equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas in New York.

"But on top of that today, some of the yield-sensitive parts of the market are contending with this backup in interest rates, so that is putting a little bit of a depressant on some parts of the market."

Comcast  was among the top drags on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, falling 1.9 percent after Barclays and Deutsche Bank cut their price targets and cited increased competition from AT&T-owned DirecTV Now. The stock is down nearly 6 percent over the past three sessions.

Comcast, along with O'Reilly Auto , whose quarterly earnings missed expectations, were the primary drags on the consumer discretionary index, which lost 0.7 percent. O'Reilly shares touched a five-month low and were on pace for their worst day in over four years.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 16.85 points, or 0.09 percent, to 18,216.18, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.44 points, or 0.02 percent, to 2,138.99 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 18.51 points, or 0.35 percent, to 5,231.76.

Google parent Alphabet was down 0.6 percent, while online retailer shed 0.3 percent ahead of their quarterly earnings scheduled for after the market close on Thursday.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.22-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.74-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and 10 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 63 new highs and 97 new lows.

Reference: Chuck Mikolajczak

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