Stocks head higher on Wall St, but Dow lower

Earnings have been the focus of attention on a light day for macro news.

The S&P has bounced back mildly after a couple of negative sessions, but there has been little clear direction today, with stock performance varying on a company-by-company basis as investors evaluate the latest corporate announcements.

The latest Dow components to report quarterly earnings announced decent results at the headline level, sparking rises in pre-market trading, but all three (Johnson & Johnson, Travelers and Verizon) sunk as the trading day progressed in New York, with investors ultimately finding cause for pessimism in the details, which perhaps speaks more to sentiment than the actual results themselves.

Overall earnings have been on the disappointing side so far; roughly 10% of the S&P 500 companies have reported to date for the last quarter, so it is still very much early days for this reporting season, but only around half of them that have beaten expectations, which is substantially below the average of 66% for the last four quarters.

With under 20 minutes to the close on Wall Street, the Dow Jones was down 0.25% at 16,417, while the S&P 500 had gained 0.25% to 1843.4.

Quarterly earnings continue tomorrow with eBay, F5 Networks and Netflix. US macro-data will be thin again, but elsewhere we have the minutes from the last MPC meeting and the Bank of Canada announces its latest monetary policy decision.

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