US rises again as Google and IBM lift mood

THE S&P 500 rose for a sixth day yesterday after stronger-than-expected profits from IBM and Google but the rally could be halted as Apple’s after-hours miss send its shares lower.

The S&P was just 4.7 per cent from its all-time closing high as IBM’s and Google’s earnings, released after Tuesday’s close, followed on the heels of stronger US economic data.

But Apple, still the largest US publicly traded company, fell more than 4 per cent in extended trading after sales of its flagship iPhone came in below analyst targets and quarterly revenue slightly missed Wall Street expectations.

Declining issues beat advancers in both the NYSE and Nasdaq during regular market hours, in a sign the market’s rally may be overstretched. The broad Russell 2000 index closed the day down 0.3 per cent after earlier hitting and intraday historic high just below 900 points.

Shares in IBM, the world’s largest technology services company, climbed 4.4 per cent during regular market hours to $204.72, providing just about all of the Dow’s 67-point gain.

Also helping the tech sector was a 5.5 per cent jump in Google to $741.50. The Internet search company reported its core business outpaced expectations and revenue was higher than expected. The S&P technology sector rose 1.2 per cent.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 66.96 points or 0.49 per cent, to 13,779.17, the S&P 500 gained 2.22 points or 0.15 per cent, to 1,494.78, and the Nasdaq Composite added 10.49 points or 0.33 per cent, to 3,153.67.

The benchmark S&P 500 is a mere 0.35 per cent away from hitting 1,500, a level not seen since12 December, 2007.

Netflix shares soared 32 per cent, above $136, after the video subscription service said it added subscribers in the United States and abroad and posted a quarterly profit.

LED maker Cree jumped 22 per cent to $40.85 after it forecast a higher-than-expected third-quarter profit, and reported results above analysts' estimates.

Upscale leather goods maker Coach plunged 16.4 per cent to $50.75 after reporting sales that missed expectations.

Clearing a market hurdle, the US House of Representatives passed a Republican-led plan to extend the country’s borrowing authority until mid May. This delays a confrontation in Congress similar to one in 2011, which generated a stalemate that triggered the first-ever US debt rating downgrade.

Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday showed that of the 99 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 67.7 per cent have topped expectations, above the 65 per cent average beat over the past four quarters.