Stocks little changed as investors weigh earnings

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(NEW YORK, AP) – Stocks were little changed in early trading on Wall Street Wednesday as investors considered mixed earnings results from several major U.S. companies.
Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, was among the early gainers, advancing 7 percent to $68.70. Yum Brands reported earnings late Tuesday that exceeded the expectations of financial analysts. General Dynamic, an aerospace and defense company, surged after posting a profit that was better than expected. The stock jumped 5 percent to $70.46.
Other companies disappointed investors.
Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer goods maker, fell 4.9 percent to $77.97 after the maker of Tide and Gillette issued a weak forecast for the next quarter. AT&T dropped 5.8 percent to $36.75 after it lost phone subscribers from its contract-based plans for the first time as sales of smartphones slow.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 28 points, or 0.2 percent, at 14,691 as of 10:16 a.m. EDT. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,576. The Nasdaq composite was down 11 points, or 0.3 percent, at 3,258.
While the majority of companies have been exceeding Wall Street’s expectations on earnings, their performance on sales hasn’t been as strong.
About 67 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far have beaten expectations, better than the 10-year average of 62 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ. However, only 42 percent of companies have reported better revenue than forecast.
A report that orders for long-lasting U.S. factory goods fell more than economists expected last month also weighed on the stock market. The Commerce Department said orders for durable goods declined 5.7 percent in March following a 4.3 percent gain the previous month. February’s figure was revised lower.
The report will add to concerns that the U.S. economy is slowing. Stocks logged their biggest weekly drop in five months last week after growth in China, the world’s second-biggest economy, slowed.
Among other companies that reported earnings Wednesday, Boeing rose 3.6 percent to $91.27 after the airplane maker said its first-quarter net income rose 20 percent despite problems with the 787 Dreamliner. The company said it would still meet its financial and delivery targets this year even after the 787 was grounded in mid-January because of problems with its batteries.
In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, was little changed at 1.71 percent.