The major domestic equity indexes closed out the trading day on Wednesday slightly higher after a spate of upbeat earnings reports. However, lingering concerns regarding trade tensions and the longest government shutdown ever limited the advance.
The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its largest gains on positive quarterly results from IBM, Procter & Gamble and United Technologies.
Investor sentiment was dampened by reports that business leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, were losing confidence in Trump’s policies that have resulted in a prolonged U.S.-China trade stand-off.
Uncertainty persisted in Washington, where no end to the longest-ever federal government shutdown appeared to be in sight.
The United States could see zero growth in the first quarter if the shutdown extends through March, according to White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Wednesday.
Nonetheless, a series of positive earnings helped send the Dow well into positive territory.
IBM provided the biggest aid to the Dow, rising 8.5 percent after cloud and software services helped its earnings come in above analyst estimates. The company offered better-than-expected guidance for 2019.
Procter & Gamble advanced 4.9 percent after the company upped its full-year sales forecast and took advantage of price increases and strong demand to exceed consensus estimates.
United Technologies reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and forecast 2019 earnings above estimates. The industrial conglomerate’s stock ended the session 5.4 percent higher.
Fourth-quarter reporting season is in full swing, and of the 15 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported, 77.6 percent have beaten analyst estimates, according to Refinitiv data.
Analysts now see S&P 500 earnings growth of 14.2 percent in the quarter.
Comcast rose 5.5 percent after the company posted better-than-expected earnings and announced it would raise its dividend by 10 percent.
Shares of Tesla fell 3.8 percent after the electric automaker said it was reducing production hours for higher-priced Model S and Model X cars, days after announcing job cuts.
After the bell, Ford reported lower operating profit in the fourth quarter, weighed down by losses in every global region but North America.
Approximately 6.83 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 7.82 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.