Wall Street ended a choppy session with a moderate advance Wednesday after a better-than-expected profit report at Boeing and a seesaw day...
NEW YORK — Wall Street ended a choppy session with a moderate advance Wednesday after a better-than-expected profit report at Boeing and a seesaw day in the energy markets.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 42.99 to 12,763.22.
Boeing, one of the 30 Dow stocks, soared $3.53 to close at $82.09 a share. Microsoft, also a Dow stock, gained $1.20 to $31.45.
Broader stock indicators also moved higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.99 to 1,379.93. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index logged a more sizable advance, rising 28.27 to 2,405.21.
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Boeing reported a 38 percent jump in first-quarter earnings. The airplane manufacturers’ results, along with stronger-than-anticipated forecasts at chip makers Broadcom and Anadigics, appeared to buoy investor sentiment about the first-quarter earnings season.
Investors also reacted positively to Liberty Mutual’s plans to acquire another insurance company, Safeco. The $6.12 billion deal — which would create the country’s fifth-biggest property insurer — sent Safeco shares surging $20.73, or 46 percent, to $20.73.
Still, the stock market’s movements were somewhat erratic Wednesday, as investors concerned about inflation kept an eye on fluctuating oil prices. Oil initially pulled back but then rebounded again, as the government reported a rise in crude inventories but a drop in gasoline stockpiles. A day earlier, a record high price for oil had helped send shares skidding.
“I think you’re just going to get continued volatility,” said Kevin Shacknofsky, co-portfolio manager of the Alpine Dynamic Dividend Fund in Purchase, N.Y. He cited investors’ concerns not only about rising energy prices, but also the health of the financial sector.
The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.
Bill Schultz, chief investment officer at McQueen, Ball & Associates in Bethlehem, Pa., said quarterly results so far haven’t given investors enough insight into what will drive profit growth in the coming quarters.
“Where does this earnings growth come from going forward? Maybe we haven’t seen the last of the subprime problem or the consumer slowdown,” he said. “I think people are just struggling to determine what is going to be the catalyst.”
Schultz also said investors are worried about rising energy prices weighing on consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
“You have concerns now that the higher gas prices will exacerbate the slowdown.”
Wall Street has been digesting the flood of corporate numbers arriving in recent weeks as it tries to ascertain how long a slowdown in the economy might last.
With little in the way of economic news expected this week, investors are left to concentrate on corporate news and await the next interest-rate decision from the Federal Reserve, which is due in a week.
Today, investors will be examining profit reports from a slew of companies including Microsoft, Motorola, 3M and American Express that may help shape the market’s overall perception of earnings.