US stock indexes edged mostly higher on company earnings

Major U.S. stock indexes edged mostly higher in afternoon trading Tuesday as investors weighed a mixed batch of company earnings reports.

Despite a choppy day of trading, the S&P 500 was holding above 3,000, hovering within range of its all-time high set on July 26, and on course to extend gains from a broad rally on Monday.

Gains in health care, energy and industrial stocks outweighed a slide in technology companies and losses in other sectors. Traders continued to favour smaller companies.

The latest earnings were surprisingly good, though a few large companies gave investors disappointing results and tempered the market’s gains.

Weak profits and sales sent McDonald’s lower.

Biogen soared after the biotechnology giant said it will ask regulators to approve a treatment for Alzheimer’s. The company’s gains gave a strong shot to the broader health care sector.

Procter & Gamble rose 4% and lifted consumer product makers after the company raised its profit forecast for the year following surprisingly good third quarter earnings.

Financial stocks recovered from an early slump. JPMorgan Chase gained 1.1% and Bank of America rose 1%. Other stocks in the sector didn’t fare as well. Travelers sank 7.2% after the insurance company reported earnings that fell far short of analysts’ forecast.

Technology companies were the biggest losers. Microsoft, which is scheduled to report quarterly results Wednesday, fell 1%.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held at 1.79%.

Investors have been shifting their focus to corporate earnings reports as they wait for developments in the trade negotiations between the U.S. and China.

Optimism over the latest round of talks, which for now have at least prevented the costly conflict from escalating further, has helped put investors in a buying mood. The benchmark S&P 500 has notched weekly gains the past two weeks.

This week will be a busy one for investors. Boeing, Caterpillar and Microsoft all report their results on Wednesday. American Airlines, Twitter and Amazon will report on Thursday.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.2% as of 2:08 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 96 points, or 0.4%, to 26,924. The Nasdaq fell 0.2%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks added 0.3%.

HEALTHY STOCK: Biogen soared 29.6% after the biotechnology company gave investors a double dose of good news. The maker of multiple sclerosis and other drugs surprised investors with its move to ask the Food and Drug Administration to approve a potential Alzheimer’s treatment. The drug had previously appeared to fail in studies earlier this year and the company halted development. A new analysis shows the drug met key treatment goals.

The company also handily beat Wall Street’s third-quarter profit and revenue forecasts.

SAGGING ARCHES: McDonald’s slid 4.5% after its third-quarter profit and revenue fell short of Wall Street forecasts. The company has been spending more money to promote its delivery options and stores are undergoing extensive renovations.

CHANGING OUTFITS: Under Armour climbed 5.6% after the athletic gear maker said founder Kevin Plank will step down as CEO in the new year to become the company’s executive chairman and brand chief. Patrik Frisk, who became president and chief operating officer two years ago, will be the second CEO since it was founded in 1996.

OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe edged higher and markets in Asia made broad gains. Tokyo’s markets were closed for a holiday marking the ascension of Emperor Naruhito to Japan’s Chrysanthemum Throne.


AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.

Alex Veiga, The Associated Press