Stocks Higher on Earnings News

Stocks Higher on Earnings News

NEW YORK (AP) -- The U.S. stock market crept higher in midday trading, shaking off a three-day slump, as the latest round of corporate results brought several positive surprises. Strong earnings from First Solar and Priceline sent their shares higher.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up nine points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,103 as of 12:20 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 18 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,569 and the Nasdaq rose 48 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,153.

CABLE TV: Walt Disney slumped 9 percent, holding back the Dow Jones industrial average, after reporting sales that fell short of estimates. The company also said a decrease in subscribers to ESPN could hamper its profit in the coming years. Disney's stock dropped $10.70 to $110.99.

HERE COMES THE SUN: First Solar soared 17 percent, the biggest gain in the S&P 500, following news that the country's largest solar company turned in results that beat estimates and also raised its outlook for full-year profits. Revenue climbed 65 percent in the quarter thanks to more income from its Silver State South plant in Nevada and the sale of stakes in two projects. First Solar's stock jumped $7.98 to $52.48.

TRAVELING UP: Priceline Group climbed 5 percent after the online-booking service posted profit and revenue that easily beat analysts' forecasts, helped by rising reservations for hotel rooms and rental cars. Its stockgained $65.70 to $1,349.76.

NOT SO BAD: Corporate earnings have helped support the stock market in recent weeks. Heading into the second-quarter earnings season last month, investors were braced for a sharp drop in profits. But now, with the bulk of results turned in, earnings are on track to slip just 0.2 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ.

"The expectations were that things would be terrible," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at the Commonwealth Financial Network. "And while they're not great, they're certainly better than expected. Look at the big picture: the only sector that's really getting killed is energy."

JOBS: Payroll processor ADP reported that companies added 185,000 jobs in July, a drop from the previous month. Investors often look to the ADP survey for clues to the Labor Department's monthly report on the job market, which is due out on Friday. Economists forecast that it will show employers added 225,000 workers in July and that the unemployment rate held steady at 5.3 percent.

CRUDE: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 65 cents to $45.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It's down sharply since hitting a recent high of $61.43 a barrel June 10.

EUROPE: Germany's DAX advanced 1.6 percent, France's CAC 40 also rose 1.6 percent, while Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.8 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: In China, the Shanghai Composite Index slid 1.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.5 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.5 percent, South Korea's Kospi added 0.1 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.4 percent.

BONDS: U.S. government bond price fell, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 2.27 percent from 2.22 percent.

(KA)