Stocks marched higher in late-afternoon trading, placing the market on track to extend its four-day winning streak and more in Tuesday’s Stock Market Update.
Investors welcomed strong earnings reports from a range of U.S. companies, including several luxury retailers.
Ralph Lauren and Estee Lauder surged after reporting earnings that came in well ahead of what analysts were expecting. Both said they were seeing better sales in Asia. That was an encouraging sign for investors, who have been worrying in recent weeks that growth in China’s economy was cooling off.
Technology stocks, which have lagged the market in recent months, accounted for much of the rally. Financial sector companies were among the biggest laggards.
Two-thirds of the way through the fourth-quarter earnings reporting season for U.S. companies, the results have come in broadly ahead of analysts’ forecasts. However that growth is expected to slow in the months ahead.
STOCK MARKET UPDATE
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 12 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,737 at closing time. The benchmark index is on a four-day winning streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 172 points, or 0.7 percent, to 25,411. The Nasdaq composite added 54 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,402. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,520. Major indexes in Europe finished higher.
THE QUOTE: “Big companies reported some really good results today,” said Lindsey Bell, an investment strategist at CFRA. “While the overall earnings season isn’t all that impressive versus the past four quarters, it’s still a pretty decent quarter.”
INVESTORS BEWARE: More than 68 percent of companies reporting earnings in the S&P 500 beat analyst forecasts during the most recent quarter. Those results, in part, helped drive the market’s best January in 32 years.
Analysts are warning that earnings growth could slow down substantially in the coming months. Companies have so far reported overall earnings growth of 16.2 percent in the latest quarter, according to data compiled by Factset. However, analysts surveyed by FactSet expect earnings to shrink 1.3 percent in the first quarter and then to grow just 1.3 percent and 2.6 percent in the second and third quarters, respectively.
LOOKING GOOD: Upscale clothing company Ralph Lauren surged on growth in Asia and Europe. The company’s most recent fiscal results beat Wall Streets’ forecasts. More importantly, it raised its forecast despite some fears about an economic slowdown hitting Europe and Asia. The stock jumped 9.6 percent to $125.54.
Estee Lauder, which also reported better results and expects growth in Asia, vaulted 12.4 percent to $153.12.
TECH RALLY: Gains in technology sector stocks helped power the market higher. Apple gained 1.7 percent to $174.22, while Microsoft climbed 1.3 percent to $107.08.
HAMMERED: Higher spending on marketing and pressure from tariffs knocked profits down 68 percent at Church & Dwight, a major maker of household products. The results fell short of Wall Street’s forecasts.
Church & Dwight, which owns the Arm & Hammer brand, said tariffs hurt its earnings, though it has raised its prices to offset the problem. Church & Dwight’s stock slumped 7.5 percent to $60.48.
ENERGY: U.S. crude oil fell 1.6 percent to settle at $53.66 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 0.8 percent to close at $61.98 per barrel in London.
© The Associated Press. All rights reserved.