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Wall Street opens little changed

Of the 82 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Thursday afternoon, about 75 per cent have topped expectations

Gulf News

NEW YORK: Wall Street opened little changed on Friday as earnings rolled in, while investors braced for the first round of the closely contested French presidential election.

After a two-week losing streak, major indexes may cling on to their gains this week following Thursday’s rally, which was driven partly by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s comments that an overhaul of the tax code would be unveiled very soon.

“The comments about the tax reform and generally good quarterly earnings are giving equities a bit of a boost,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Of the 82 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Thursday afternoon, about 75 per cent have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the 71 per cent average for the past four quarters.

Overall, profits of S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 11.1 per cent in the quarter, the best since 2011.

At 9:38am (1338 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 7.04 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 20,585.75 and the S&P 500 was down 1.11 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 2,354.73.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 4.74 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 5,912.03.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the telecommunications index’s 0.53 per cent fall leading the decliners.

On the economic front, data is expected to show March existing home sales expanded slightly to 5.6 million from 5.48 million in February. The data is expected at 10am (1400 GMT).

Oil prices edged lower, on course for the biggest weekly drop in a month, over doubts that an OPEC-led production cut will restore balance to an oversupplied market.

Shares of Dow component Visa were up 1.4 per cent at $92.40 after the payments network operator’s quarterly results beat expectations.

General Electric was little changed at $30.30 after the company’s revenue beat Wall Street expectations.

Schlumberger was down 3.2 per cent at $74.12 after the oilfield services provider said costs would continue to weigh on margins over the next two quarters.

Mattel fell 5.7 per cent to $23.76 after the toymaker reported a far bigger-than-expected quarterly loss and drop in sales.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,455 to 1,081. On the Nasdaq, 1,375 issues fell and 843 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed nine new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 23 new highs and six new lows.