Wall Street slightly up as earnings season picks up pace
(Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher and stayed near record levels in early afternoon trading on Monday, with investors waiting for big U.S. companies to report their quarterly earnings.
Analysts' are estimating an 8.2 percent rise in second-quarter earnings for the S&P 500 companies from a year earlier.
This follows a robust first quarter when U.S. companies posted their best earnings since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Microsoft <MSFT.O>, IBM <IBM.N> and Johnson and Johnson <JNJ.N> are scheduled to report results this week. Netflix <NFLX.O> will report results after the market close on Monday.
Earnings will be closely watched to see if high valuations are justified in the face of tepid inflation and a recent patch of mixed economic data.
The S&P 500 has been trading at about 18 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months, compared with the long-term average of 15 times.
"After new highs that we saw last week, the market deserves a rest as investors await big earnings this week," said Dave Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management.
"Our view is that right now the equity market is a one-legged stool that's driven by earnings and we're pretty optimistic about earnings but if that should falter, the market will falter."
At 12:38 p.m. ET (1638 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was up 14.93 points, or 0.07 percent, at 21,652.67, the S&P 500 <.SPX> was up 2.42 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,461.69.
The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> was up 9.60 points, or 0.15 percent, at 6,322.07.
Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the materials index's <.SPLRCM> 0.37 percent rise leading the advancers.
The financial sector <.SPSY> was little changed after results and forecasts on Friday by big banks such as JPMorgan <JPM.N>, Citigroup <C.N> and Wells Fargo <WFC.N> failed to excite investors.
Bank of America <BAC.N>, Morgan Stanley <MS.N>, Goldman Sachs <GS.N> will report results later this week.
The Dow and the S&P hit record highs on Friday after weak economic data dulled prospects of more interest rate hikes this year.
Shares of BlackRock <BLK.N> fell 3.4 percent after the world's biggest asset manager's quarterly profit came in below expectations.
Meal-kit company Blue Apron Holdings <APRN.N> fell 10.3 percent after an Amazon <AMZN.O> unit filed a trademark for a competing meal-kit service earlier this month. Amazon was up 1 percent and provided the biggest boost to the Nasdaq.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,709 to 1,112. On the Nasdaq, 1,570 issues rose and 1,183 fell.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Arun Koyyur)
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