The tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced on Wednesday as strong Microsoft results offset concerns over rising interest rates and their effect on the U.S. economy, while an upbeat forecast from Boeing further boosted sentiment.
Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) climbed 7.0% after it beat estimates for quarterly results, and said that artificial intelligence products were stimulating sales, pushing information technology (.SPLRCT) stocks more than 1% higher.
Tracking a strong performance in Microsoft’s cloud segment, firms including Amazon.com (AMZN.O), data analytics company Datadog (DDOG.O), and data cloud giant Snowflake Inc (SNOW.N) advanced between 3.6% and 8.9%.
Boeing Co (BA.N) added 3.7% after the planemaker said it planned to ramp up production of its 737 MAX jets to 38 per month by the year-end, while backing its annual cash-flow target.
Earnings forecasts have improved, with analysts expecting a 3.9% contraction in first-quarter profit for S&P 500 companies compared with a 5.2% decline estimated at the beginning of the earnings season.
Of the 124 S&P 500 companies that reported first-quarter profit through Tuesday, 79% topped analysts’ expectations, as per Refinitiv IBES data. In a typical quarter, 66% companies beat estimates.
“Despite some better-than-expected results from the first of the big tech crowd to report, the darkening picture of consumer confidence has increased concerns about lower spending ahead,” said Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets, Hargreaves Lansdown.
A report on Tuesday showed U.S. consumer confidence dropped to a nine-month low in April, signaling that the economy could fall into recession this year.
Wall Street’s major averages suffered their deepest declines so far this month on Tuesday as a downbeat UPS (UPS.N) forecast exacerbated investor concerns about a slowing U.S. economy while plunging deposits at First Republic Bank (FRC.N) added to jitters about the bank sector’s health.
First Republic <FRC.N> shares hit a fresh record low, dropping 22.8%.
Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) fell 8.9% after UK’s competition regulator prevented its takeover by Microsoft on antitrust concerns.
Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) is scheduled to report results after market close on Wednesday.
At 10:02 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was down 5.48 points, or 0.02%, at 33,525.35 and the S&P 500 (.SPX) was up 6.61 points, or 0.16%, at 4,078.24.
The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) rose 0.93%, or 109.36 points, to 11,908.52, as per Nasdaq.com.
Investors are keenly awaiting the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision on May 3 for clues on how far policymakers will hike interest rates.
Traders have given about 77% odds to the U.S. central bank hiking rates by 25 basis points next week, as per CMEGroup’s Fedwatch tool, with most expecting the Fed to hold rates before starting to cut them later this year.
Reflecting mounting anxiety among investors, the cost of insuring exposure to U.S. sovereign debt rose to its highest since 2011, driven up by unease that the government could hit its debt ceiling sooner than expected.
The U.S. House of Representatives could vote as early as Wednesday on a bill that sharply cuts spending for a decade in exchange for a short-term hike in the debt ceiling, though it was unclear if it had enough support in the Republican majority to pass.
Among other stocks, Visa Inc (V.N) inched up 0.8% on reporting better-than-expected second-quarter profit and betting on sustained growth in its payments business, while PacWest Bancorp (PACW.O) gained 7.9% as the regional lender beat estimates for first-quarter profit as it managed to stabilize deposit outflows.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 1.09-to-1 ratio on the NYSE, while advancers outnumbered decliners by a 1.04-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded three new 52-week highs and seven new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 32 new highs and 181 new lows.