US stocks drifted lower as investors assessed the latest batch of first quarter corporate earnings reports and renewed concern that Greece would default on its debts.
The S&P 500 Index was flat at 2104 points with more than half of its ten key sectors recording losses on the day. Shares of SanDisk declined after a downbeat revenue outlook but a surge in Netflix after better than expected results helped curb its decline.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 2 points or 0.01% top 18,112 points after wavering between slight declines and losses in morning trading.
The blue chip index had earlier slipped by more than 15 points or 0.1% to an intraday low with more than two thirds of its components negative on the day.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped 5 points or 0.1% to 5005.6 with its declines capped by a surging Netflix which had gained more than 15%.
Most corporate reports released on Thursday showed very little organic growth despite having exceeded downgraded expectations.
According to reports by Reuters, more than 76.5% of the 51 S&P 5oo Index companies that have released their first quarter results have topped profit expectations while only around 47% have exceeded revenue forecasts.
The number of companies exceeding profit expectations is well above the long term average of the benchmark index which stands at 63% but have fallen short of the revenue long term average of 61%.
That indicates that companies are boosting their own bottom lines through austerity cuts rather than through organic business expansion.
Investors also attributed the general market weakness to a selloff in European Stocks on worries that Athens was going to default its loans and lower oil prices.
There’s still nervousness about Europe for sure,” Steve Bombardiere, trader at Conifer Securities, told the Wall Street Journal.
“We have these days where it just overtakes whatever the earnings news is.”
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