S&P, Dow dip on Commerce chief Ross's trade comment; chips buoy Nasdaq

Opening at over 24,700 the day’s trading saw the Dow drop to as low as 24,290

Opening at over 24,700 the day’s trading saw the Dow drop to as low as 24,290

US stocks ended higher on Wednesday, as stronger-than-expected corporate performance shored up rebounds in the overall USA stock markets, despite the ongoing concerns over a slowing global economy.

United Technologies reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and forecast 2019 earnings above analyst estimates.

Intel climbed almost 4 percent while Lam Research surged 14 percent.

The Russell 2000 is down 28.25 points, or 1.9 per cent.

"What we're seeing is the positive of strong earnings being offset by the very rapidly rising political risks", said Oliver Pursche, vice chairman and chief market strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in NY. "There continues to be hope, but then the commerce secretary saying that we're miles apart on a China trade deal certainly negates that positive".

American Airlines Group, Southwest Airlines Co and JetBlue Airways Corp gained 5 per cent each after reporting quarterly profits that beat analysts' expectations.

The S&P 500 index edged up 3.63 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,642.33.

Union Pacific Corp also reported earnings that surprised to the upside.

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All three major USA stock indexes closed in positive territory, with the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average seeing the biggest gains on positive quarterly results from International Business Machines, Procter & Gamble Co and United Technologies. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index, which had underperformed 10 of the 11 S&P sectors so far this year, jumped 5.78 per cent.

The S&P 500 posted 4 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 16 new highs and 45 new lows.

Shares of United Technologies rose over 5 percent, after the US manufacturing conglomerate posted adjusted fourth-quarter profit on Wednesday, brought by rising growth in aerospace businesses sales and lower tax rate.

Fourth-quarter reporting season is in full swing, and of the 15 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported, 77.6 percent have beaten analyst estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

McCormick & Co plunged 10.62 percent, the most on the S&P, after the seasonings maker's quarterly profit missed expectations.

PG&E Corp soared by 74.6 percent after the California utility was cleared of the 2017 Tubbs fire.

The Nasdaq is down 83.77 points, or 1.2 percent.

Volume on USA exchanges was 6.83 billion shares, compared to the 7.82 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

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