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US STOCKS-Wall St edges higher on generally positive earnings

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* Netflix, IBM dip in after-hours trading after postingearnings

* Johnson & Johnson, Bank of America, BlackRock, beat Q1estimates

* Healthcare stocks biggest drag on all 3 major U.S. stockindexes

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended slightlyhigher on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 inching closer to itsall-time high following a string of mostly positive earnings,while a drop in healthcare shares limited the advance.

All three major U.S. stock indexes ended the session inpositive territory, with the S&P 500 hovering within apercentage of its record high reached in September.

Bank of America CorpBAC.N , Johnson & JohnsonJNJ.N ,BlackRock IncBLK.N , UnitedHealth Group IncUHN.N and othersposted quarterly earnings that surpassed analyst expectations.

But stock movements following the reports were mixed.

"You see different numbers and different drivers," said JohnLynch, chief investment strategist for LPL Financial inCharlotte, North Carolina. "We've had some mixed messages fromfinancials and healthcare."

With reporting season in full swing, analysts now expectfirst quarter S&P 500 profits to have dropped 1.8% year-on-year,according to Refinitiv data. While a solid improvement overrecent estimates, it would still mark the first earnings declinesince 2016.

Of the 42 S&P 500 companies that have posted thus far, 81%have beaten consensus, compared with the 65% average beat rategoing back to 1994.

Johnson & Johnson came in above analyst estimates, mostlyattributable to sales growth at its pharmaceuticals unit,driving the stock 1.1% higher.

But UnitedHealth GroupUNH.N , which also reportedbetter-than-anticipated first-quarter profit and hiked its 2019earnings forecast

Rivals Anthem IncANTM.N and Cigna CorpCI.N also slid,dropping 6.8% and 7.8%, respectively.

The S&P 500 Healthcare Index .SPXHC closed down 2.0%

The second biggest U.S. bank by assets, Bank of Americamissed revenue expectations but its profit beat forecasts due tocost cutting and loan increases.

BlackRockBLK.N , the world's largest asset manager, gained3.2% after blowing past Street expectations and raking in $65billion in new investor cash in the first quarter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 67.89 points,or 0.26%, to 26,452.66, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 1.48 points,or 0.05%, to 2,907.06 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added24.21 points, or 0.3%, to 8,000.23.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, seven ended thesession in the black.

Financials .SPSY were the biggest percentage winners,rising 1.4%.

Streaming company Netflix IncNFLX.O dipped in after-hourstrading after it posted first quarter results.

International Business Machines CorpIBM.N also fellpost-market following the blue-chip tech company's earningsreport.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a1.23-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.28-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 57 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; theNasdaq Composite recorded 96 new highs and 41 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.57 billion shares, comparedto the 6.87 billion average over the last 20 trading days. (Reporting by Stephen CulpEditing by Alistair Bell) ((stephen.culp@thomsonreuters.com; 646-223-6076;))


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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