Wall Street surges to close higher, powered by upbeat earnings, guidance

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street ended higher on Tuesday as a spate of solid corporate earnings and upbeat forecasts stoked investor risk appetite and sparked a broad rally.

All three major U.S. stock indexes advanced, with interest rate sensitive megacaps providing much of the upside lift as benchmark Treasury yields held steady, comfortably below their recent spike to 5%.

Third quarter earnings season has shifted into high gear, and this week nearly a third of the companies in the S&P 500 are expected to post results.

“The earnings season is only now just getting into full swing with a third of the companies reporting this week,” said Thomas Martin, senior portfolio manager at GLOBALT in Atlanta. “Prior to yesterday and today, the earnings reports were a bit on the disappointing side, and so this was the first couple of days we’ve had some more upbeat and better earnings.”

Indeed, of the 118 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, 81% have beaten analysts’ expectations, according to LSEG.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 204.97 points, or 0.62%, to 33,141.38, the S&P 500 gained 30.64 points, or 0.73%, to 4,247.68 and the Nasdaq Composite added 121.55 points, or 0.93%, to 13,139.88.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, utilities enjoyed the largest gain, while energy was the sole loser, weighed down by softening crude prices.

Verizon surged 9.3% after raising its annual free cash flow forecast, while General Electric rose 6.5% after the conglomerate lifted its full-year profit forecast.

Coca-Cola hiked its annual sales outlook, sending its stock up 2.9%, while 3M rose 5.3% on the heels of its upbeat quarterly report.

Aerospace firm RTX jumped 7.2% after its results topped expectations.

On the economics front, business activity in the U.S. has ticked higher this month, according to S&P Global’s advance “flash” purchasing managers’ indexes (PMI).

Calling the PMI a “goldilocks” report, Martin said it was “generally a good report” with prices moderating and “okay” employment.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department is due to release its first take on third quarter GDP, which is seen showing a robust acceleration to 4.3% from 2.1% in the second quarter.

On Friday, the Commerce Department is expected to follow with its closely watched Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report, which analysts expect will provide further evidence that inflation is slowly cooling down toward the Federal Reserve’s average annual 2% target rate.

“The question is, can the Fed thread the needle – can they get inflation to moderate to an acceptable level before things deteriorate significantly for the U.S. consumer?” said Bill Merz, head of Capital Market Research at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

If that happens, Merz added, the odds increase that the U.S. economy will avoid a recession.

Shares of Microsoft Corp posted after hour gains after beating quarterly revenue estimates, while Alphabet Inc lost ground after the bell following its revenue beat.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Additional reporting by Shubham Batra, Shashwat Chauhan and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru, editing by Deepa Babington)