Wall St inches higher on tech boost, Johnson & Johnson earnings

By Amy Caren Daniel

April 16 () - U.S. stocks edged higher on Tuesday, as an advance in technology shares and a jump in Johnson & Johnson following strong results countered losses in UnitedHealth and Bank of America.

Johnson & Johnson gained 4.5% after the healthcare conglomerate beat quarterly profit estimates and raised its adjusted sales growth forecast for the year.

The results come after Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Citigroup Inc on Monday disappointed with quarterly revenue misses.

"At the margin, you are getting positive surprises on the earnings front. I don't think that it was unexpected that things related to the cyclical economy to be weak," said Thomas Martin, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments in Atlanta.

Insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc reversed course to trade down 4.5% as better-than-expected quarterly results failed to soothe concerns over a possible overhaul of the rebate system.

Its rivals Anthem Inc tumbled 6.6% and Cigna Corp fell 4.9%.

"It remains a wild card. Even though they are proving that their business model is good and are producing good results, people are concerned that the managed care area is going to be under pressure," said Martin.

Of the 42 S&P 500 companies that reported through Monday, 81% came beat estimates, above the 76% average of the past four quarters, according to Refinitiv data.

Analysts now expect S&P 500 companies to post a 1.8% year-on-year decline in profits, an improvement from the 2.3% fall expected a week ago, but that would still mark the first annual decline in earnings since 2016.

At 11:20 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 45.57 points, or 0.17%, at 26,430.34. The S&P 500 was up 5.07 points, or 0.17%, at 2,910.65 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 32.15 points, or 0.40%, at 8,008.17.

Technology shares rose 0.57%, and provided the biggest boost to markets on gains in Apple Inc and chipmakers. The Philadelphia chip index rose 1.56%.

Only the defensive utilities , real estate , materials sectors were marginally lower.

Among other stocks, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc fell 4.2% after the transport and logistics provider's first-quarter results fell short of estimates.

Netflix Inc , scheduled to report after markets close, rose 2.5% after Deutsche Bank upgraded the streaming company's shares to "buy".

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.35-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.38-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 48 new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 73 new highs and 23 new lows.

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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