Stocks Edge Higher Amid Solid Earnings Reports

Stocks edged higher on Wall Street in morning Thursday as investors continued to digest solid corporate earnings reports and remained confident that a new round of government aid is on the horizon.

President Joe Biden held his first conversation with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Although there wasn’t any indication of a major change in U.S. trade policy, businesses are hoping for a less combative approach to trade policy between the world’s two biggest economies than during the Trump administration.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.1% as investors try to regain momentum after a wobbly day of trading Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9 points, or less than 0.1%, to 31.428 as of 11:25 a.m. Eastern and is hovering around a record high set on Wednesday. The Nasdaq rose 0.4%.

Technology stocks were key drivers of the gains following two relatively weak days. Most other sectors of the market were muted or edging lower. The yield on 10-year Treasury note held at 1.15% after being as high as 1.20% earlier this week.

Many markets in Asia were closed for the Lunar New Year and other holidays. Markets in Europe were mostly higher.

Companies continued reporting mostly solid earnings, adding to a surprisingly good earnings season. Kraft Heinz jumped 6.5% and Zillow Group rose 15.5% after beating Wall Street’s fourth-quarter profit forecasts.

The pandemic and business shutdowns are still hurting many companies and crimping their financial results. Molson Coors fell 10.8% after its profits fell short of expectations because business shutdowns in Europe hurt sales.

Wall Street is still looking for more government aid to help bolster the struggling economy as vaccine distribution progresses and the number of new virus cases continues falling. Democrats in Congress are working on a potential $1.9 trillion relief package that would include direct payments to people and more jobless aid as unemployment remains stubbornly high.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 793,000. The job market had shown tentative improvement last summer but slowed through the fall and in the past two months. Nearly 10 million jobs still remain lost to the pandemic.

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