Stocks are drifting slightly higher in early trading Wednesday as tensions between the U.S. and China flare up again
Stocks edged higher on Wall Street in early trading Wednesday, adding to the market’s recent gains, as investors size up a mix of company earnings reports.
The S&P 500 was up 0.3%. The index is on a three-day winning streak. Gains in technology and health care companies outweighed losses in energy, financial and household goods stocks. Treasury yields fell, a sign of caution in the market.
Traders had their eye on a flareup in tensions between Washington and Beijing. The U.S. ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, saying it was necessary to protect American intellectual property. China said it would retaliate.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 30 points, or 0.1%, to 26,870. The Nasdaq rose 0.5%. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks was flat. Indexes in Europe fell. Asia ended mixed.
United Airlines slid 2.7% after reporting that its revenue plunged 87% as the coronavirus throttled air travel. Pfizer rose 2.7% after the U.S. government signed a contract with the company to deliver the first 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine it’s developing by December.
The Federal Reserve’s efforts to support markets and expectations that Washington eventually will deliver more financial aid to help Americans weather the economic downturn have been key in keeping markets mostly pushing higher since stocks plunged in March.
Still, worries remain that the rise of coronavirus counts across much of the country will derail efforts to reopen businesses shut down due to the pandemic.
Adding to unease Wednesday was a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that the number of coronavirus cases in some states is much higher than has been reported. Experts have said all along that the toll from the COVID-19 pandemic is much higher than tallies of confirmed cases would indicate, due to issues with testing and data collection.
Uncertainty over prospects for more financial aid to Americans and U.S. businesses also is casting a shadow, analysts said. The Republican Party and Democrats remain divided over how much support is needed, as states grapple with rebounds in cases that have prompted some local governments to order some businesses to close to help snuff out flare ups of the virus.
Among big companies reporting results this week: Microsoft and Tesla issue results on Wednesday, Intel, AT&T and Twitter report on Thursday and Verizon Communications and American Express report earnings Friday.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 0.58% from 0.60%.
In the commodities markets, the price of benchmark U.S oil dropped 1% to $41.49 per barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, lost 60 cents to $43.72 per barrel.