Corporate earnings boost Wall Street

US stocks managed modest gains yesterday, as better-than-expected corporate profits overshadowed concerns about weak consumer demand.<br /><br />Positive surprises on the earnings front could boost markets again today as chip maker Intel reported results after the bell that surpassed expectations, driving stock index futures sharply higher.<br /><br />Intel also gave a forecast for current-quarter revenue that beat analysts&rsquo; estimates. Its stock surged 7.4 per cent to $18.08 in extended trade.<br /><br />Analysts said the bulk of yesterday&rsquo;s news during the regular session, including a jump in profit from <strong>Goldman Sachs</strong>, was already accounted for on Monday, when major stock indexes climbed more than 2 per cent in anticipation of strong bank results.<br /><br />Competing positive and negative earnings reports tempered each other, keeping the markets range-bound.<br /><br />Gains were muted by lacklustre retail sales data and comments from Dell that second-quarter margins would be lower as demand has shifted toward cheaper computers, such as netbooks.<br /><br />This was offset by encouraging comments from railroad company CSX&rsquo;s chief executive and results from Johnson &amp; Johnson that surpassed expectations.<br /><br />&ldquo;The sellers had a chance to run with it, but again we found sideline cash ready to come in,&rdquo; said Scott Marcouiller, senior equity market strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors.<br /><br />&ldquo;The bottom line is, we think we&rsquo;re still going to be in this trading range for a little while longer.&rdquo;<br /><br />The Dow Jones industrial average added 27.81 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 8,359.49. The Standard &amp; Poor&rsquo;s 500 Index gained 4.79 points, or 0.53 per cent, to 905.84. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 6.52 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 1,799.73.<br /><br />Data showed June retail sales increased 0.6 per cent, which was more than forecast, but a big part of that gain was due to rising gasoline prices.<br /><br />Excluding autos and gas sales, retail sales registered a fourth consecutive monthly decline. A rebound in sales is considered vital for the economy to bounce back from recession.