US stocks wavered between slight gains and losses as investors assessed the initial major corporate earnings reports of the reporting season, which showed weaknesses although companies exceeded downgraded expectations.
Also notable, monthly retail sales rebound in the month of March, albeit by less than expected while producer prices slumped below expectations and SME sentiment plunged to a nine-month low.
The disappointing economic reports coupled with forecast-topping earnings reports from large banks and retailers like JP- Morgan, provided a varied picture of the economy with the major indexes responding by fluctuating between modest gains and losses.
The benchmark S&P 500 Index inched up 2.85 points or 0.1% to 2095.4 points with its 10 key sectors evenly split between gainers and losers.
The S&P rebound from a morning decline boosted by energy shares after a gain in crude prices.
Norfolk Southern Corp was the greatest decliner in the index slipping more than 5% on Monday’s downwardly revised first quarter earnings forecast.
According to Fox Business, companies in the Benchmark Index are expected to record an average drop of 3% in their first quarter earnings- the first quarterly slump since 2009.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 58 points or 0.3% to 18025 points with more than three quarters of its 30 components recording intraday gains.
The Nasdaq Composite slipped 14 points or 0.3% to 4974 just a day after exceeding 5000 points for the first time this month.
Most market analysts do not expect outstanding results, but they do not expect them to be disastrous either- with most companies expected to top expectations due to cost cutting.
“We are watching global companies to see how they were impacted by the dollar, and (J&J) suggests the impact could be worse than we thought,” Terry Morris, senior equity manager for National Penn Investors Trust Company in Reading, Pennsylvania, told Reuters.
“A lot of companies are beating expectations, but that’s due to cost-cutting, not increased demand. So far, this season is a yawn for the market.”
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