Earnings drive gains for United States stocks in early trading



Wall Street stocks finished modestly higher Wednesday as optimism about strong earnings and upbeat economic data was offset somewhat by concerns about United States monetary policy. The Fed has signaled it could raise its benchmark interest rate three times this year, but analysts don't expect the first hike to be announced before the Fed's March meeting.

However, stronger-than-expected private sector job data for January and pending home sales data for December renewed investor optimism and helped indices close in green for the first time in the week.

Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 34 points, while S&P 500 futures gained 1.75 points.

USA stocks sank on Friday, as the Dow plunged more than 400 points amid weak earnings reports from blue-chip companies and as a robust U.S.jobs report boosted bond yields and bolstered expectations that the pace of interest rates hikes could pick up.

On Wednesday, the Dow ended January 5.6 percent up, while the S&P 500 rose 5.8 percent in the same period.

Some investors said a positive earnings and economic backdrop remains intact, though concerns about higher inflation and less accommodative central-bank policy have become more pronounced recently. The Nasdaq increased 16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,427.

Shares of oil majors Exxon and Chevron were down 5 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, after reporting lower-than-expected quarterly profits.

CHIPPER RESULTS: Qorvo jumped 12.9 percent after the chipmaker served up solid quarterly results.

Still, "the movement in stocks since the beginning of the year has been remarkable", she added.

UPS dropped 6.6 percent after the world's largest package delivery company reported a fourth-quarter net profit that was hurt by additional costs. The aerospace giant has been the biggest gainer in the Dow Jones industrial average over the past year.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 55 cents to $65.28 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Dow rose 238 points, or 0.9 percent, to 26,318. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, declined 16 cents to $68.36 in London. Before the NYSE open a surge in the German 10-year bund yield chased the DAX below a key technical support and drove USA futures into the red. London's FTSE 100 fell 0.4 percent.

The 2.4 percent drop in the Dow came as the Labor Department reported 200,000 jobs were added to the economy last month, which was stronger than expected, and the unemployment rate stayed at 4.1 percent - the lowest since 2000. The euro strengthened to $1.2478 from $1.2410. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.8 percent.

The Nasdaq is down 94.29 points, or 1.3 percent.

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