Strong tech results propel S&P 500, Nasdaq

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose on Thursday following strong quarterly reports from several technology companies, including Microsoft, but dour results from 3M Co stymied the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Microsoft shares gained 2.0% as the tech giant’s outlook for cloud computing services surpassed analysts’ expectations, while shares of PayPal Holdings rose 8.6% on the payments company’s strong full-year earnings forecast. Microsoft and PayPal were the top boosts to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

Shares of 3M dropped after the industrial conglomerate missed third-quarter sales estimates and lowered its full-year profit forecast. The company’s US sales dropped 1.1% and its Asia-Pacific sales fell 5% as industrial production slowed.

Individual company results have greatly swayed the direction of Wall Street’s major indexes this week in the midst of earnings season. More than 80% of the 168 S&P 500 companies that have reported results have beaten profit expectations, according to Refinitiv data.

Yet the earnings season has also reflected signs of economic vulnerability, said John Carey, managing director at Amundi Pioneer Asset Management in Boston.

“On the whole, the earnings reports have supported a view of the economy as slowing,” he said.

In particular, 3M’s results pointed to continued fallout from the US-China trade dispute, said J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.

“It’s showing us that the tariff situation continues to be a major concern for companies in how to spend their money,” Kinahan said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28.42 points, or 0.11%, to 26 805.53, the S&P 500 gained 5.77 points, or 0.19%, to 3 010.29 and the Nasdaq Composite added 66.00 points, or 0.81%, to 8 185.80.

After the bell, shares of Intel and moved sharply following the companies’ results. Intel shares were last up about 8% while Amazon shares were last down around 9%.

Lam Research shares jumped 13.9%, hitting a record high, after the chip equipment maker forecast strong results for the December quarter. Lam Research was the top boost to the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index, which rose 2.5% a day after being pressured by losses in shares of Texas Instruments.

Twitter shares plummeted 20.8% after the social networking company’s revenue and profit missed estimates, in part due to technical issues with its ad platform.

Ford Motor shares tumbled 6.6% after the automaker cut its profit outlook for the year. By contrast, Tesla shares surged 17.7% after the electric car maker reported a surprise quarterly profit.

Dow shares advanced 4.7% after the chemicals company beat profit estimates, having cut costs to offset a sharp drop in global demand.

Johnson & Johnson shares fell 1.8% after CVS Health said it was pulling 22-ounce bottles of J&J baby powder from its stores.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.02-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.20-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 29 new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 58 new highs and 54 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 6.47 billion shares, compared with the 6.48 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.