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Stocks slightly higher as oil prices reverse decline

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Stocks are mostly higher in afternoon trading Friday, as investors worked through another mixed batch of corporate earnings, this time from positive results from Google’s parent company Alphabet and Amazon, and disappointing results from oil giants Chevron and Exxon Mobil.

The Bank of Japan disappointed investors with stimulus plans that didn’t go as far as many had hoped. An earlier slump in oil prices reversed, helping the broader market.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 23 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 18,433 as of 12:55 p.m. Eastern. The Dow was being dragged down mostly by a drop in Exxon. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose three points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,172 and the Nasdaq composite rose eight points, or 0.1 per cent, to 5,161.

LOW ENERGY: Exxon Mobil and Chevron declined after both companies reported steep drops in quarterly earnings due to low oil prices. Exxon Mobil had its smallest quarterly profit in 17 years, well below what analysts were looking for. Chevron fared slightly better. While earnings dropped sharply from a year ago, Chevron’s results still beat analysts’ expectations. Exxon fell $1.94 to $88.26 and Chevron fell 16 cents to $101.63.

SHOW ME THE MONEY: Wall Street is finishing out its busiest week of corporate earnings season, which was dominated by mostly strong results from technology companies including Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and others. Tech earnings helped lift the technology-heavy Nasdaq this week, which is up 1.2 per cent compared to declines in the S&P 500 and Dow.

So far, corporate profits appear to be coming well ahead of what were very low expectations. Earnings in the S&P 500 so far are down 2.4 per cent from a year ago, which is better than the 5.2 per cent decline expected when earnings season started, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Next week another 20 per cent of the S&P 500 will report their results, including Proctor & Gamble, General Motors, Kraft Heinz, 21st Century Fox and Allstate, among many others.

A-B-C: Alphabet, the parent company of Google, jumped $33.45, or 4 per cent, to $799.12. The company reported earnings of $8.42 a share, well above the $8.04 that analysts were looking for.

STRONG SALES: Amazon rose $9.72, or 1.3 per cent to $762.64. The online retail giant reported a profit of $1.78 per share, well above the $1.11 a share that analysts expected. Amazon reported it sold $30.4 billion in goods in the quarter, up 31 per cent from a year earlier.

CRUDE OIL: In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude reversed earlier losses and was up 5 cents to $41.19 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 11 cents to $43.12 a barrel in London.

JAPAN SURPRISE: Japan’s central bank ended a policy meeting Friday by announcing it will expand purchases of exchange traded funds from financial institutions to help inject more cash into the world’s third-largest economy and pursue its 2 per cent inflation target. But the measures fell short of hopes for more aggressive action. That helped the yen surge as investors priced in fewer yen in circulation. The dollar dropped to 102.26 yen from 105.45 yen.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note falling to 1.48 per cent from 1.51 per cent the day before. The euro rose to $1.1163 from $1.1073.