Stocks Move Sideways Early Friday

NEW YORK (AP) -- A government report showing solid economic growth and a mixed bag of corporate earnings sent U.S. stocks sideways in midday trading Friday on Wall Street.

Stocks are on pace to finish the week slightly higher after investors weighed contrasting earnings results. U.S. companies are about a third of the way through their latest round of quarterly reports. So far they've avoided analysts' most dire predictions for a severe contraction.

Amazon and Ford led their respective sectors broadly higher as investors applauded solid financial results. But Intel's weak forecast sent shares of chipmakers lower, while Exxon led a decline in energy stocks. Both Intel and Exxon contributed to a slide in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The Commerce Department's latest economic growth report is helping to stabilize the broader market. The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2% annual pace in the first quarter. That marks a surge from the previous quarter and it blows away Wall Street forecasts. The report helped push bond prices higher, a sign that investors have more confidence in continued economic growth. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.49%.

Earlier this week the benchmark S&P 500 index hit an all-time high, as investors grew more confident in economic growth and corporate earnings. The broad index is up more than 16% for the year.

Wall Street has also been rewarding some technology companies since their highly anticipated stock market debuts. Pinterest and Zoom both went public earlier this month and are trading near their raised initial prices. Ride-hailing company Uber and messaging platform Slack are set to be the next technology companies to open up for public investment.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose 0.2% as of 11:40 a.m. The Dow Jones rose 0.1%, or 16 points, to 26,478. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.1%

ANALYST'S COMMENT: Companies have mostly met profit forecasts for the first quarter, taking some pressure off the market.

"It's marginally better than expected, so the market has rallied a bit," said Andrew Slimmon, managing director and senior portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

Meanwhile, investor fears of a potential recession have subsided since the year started, helping the market steadily recover from its fourth-quarter meltdown.

"With no recession, the market was due for a bounce back," he said.

Slimmon warned that investors seem to be complacent with a less volatile market, which he said could be setting it up for a pullback.

CHIPPED FORECAST: Intel shares fell 9.8% after the chipmaker warned that weak demand in China will likely continue through the current quarter. It slashed its forecast for the quarter and expects a drop in revenue for the year.

The warning dragged down competitors, who also rely in large part on growth in China to fuel sales. Nvidia fell 5.6%, Micron Technology fell 3.4% and Western Digital fell 5.8%.

TOY STORY: Mattel jumped 6.8% after surprising investors with higher sales of its iconic Barbie and Hot Wheels toys. The company and its competitor Hasbro have been trying to find a new way to drive sales after the bankruptcy of Toys R Us. Both companies have now surprised the broader market with solid sales, despite the disappearance of the major retailer

KEEP ON TRUCKIN: Ford Motor rode its trucks and SUVs to a solid first-quarter profit. The company surprised Wall Street with better-than-anticipated earnings as sales of pickups and sport utility vehicles sparked an improved performance in North America.

The stock surged 10.8%

The company said a restructuring program is starting to improve operations. It is currently shifting away from sedans in the U.S., closing international factories and cutting thousands of white-collar jobs.

(BE)