Markets Right Now: Stocks move higher at midday

At 9:44 a.m. ET (1344 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 12 points, or 0.06 percent, at 20,511.28, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 6.37 points, or 0.27 percent, at 2,348.56 and the Nasdaq Composite index .IXIC was up 28.40 points, or 0.49 percent, at 5,877.87.

IBM IBM.N sank almost 6 percent to $16.06 after the company reported a bigger-than-expected decline in revenue for the first time in five quarters.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 119.13 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 20,404.15, the S&P 500 lost 4.03 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 2,338.16 and the Nasdaq Composite added 13.56 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 5,863.03.

The large-cap S&P 500 Index (NYSEARCA:SPY) declined 0.2% to close at 2,338.17. That helped banks but hurt high-dividend companies including utilities and real estate investment trusts.

Notable strength has also emerged among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1% gain being posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. Despite disappointing results from Goldman Sachs Tuesday morning, most have said their trading units did well, and they're also benefiting from higher interest rates. Half of the blue-chip index's losses came from IBM, which reported weaker-than-expected sales in the first quarter.

Nordstrom rose 2.5 percent and Cigna gained 1.3 percent Wednesday.

BONDS: Bond prices fell, reversing gains from a day earlier. The price of gold, which has climbed steadily in recent weeks, fell nearly 1 percent. (NYSE: CAT), which fell 1.4% and 1%, respectively.

Tepid quarterly numbers from Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson pulled the major USA stock indexes lower on Tuesday. The PC-turned-software company reported first-quarter net income of $1.75 billion, or $1.85 a share, compared with $2 billion, or $2.09 a share, in the year-earlier period.

CHOPPY CHOPPER SALES: Textron, which makes Cessna small planes and Bell helicopters, also disclosed lower-than-expected sales. Basic materials companies rose behind gains for packaging companies WestRock, which added $1.97, or 3.9 percent, to $52.60 and International Paper, which rose 85 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $52.30.

OTHER LEADERS: GE helped lead industrial companies higher as it gained 8 cents to $29.92.

Oil prices slumped after the Energy Information Administration said USA crude inventories didn't shrink as much as investors hoped they would last week, and the EIA says the stockpiles are larger than normal for this time of year.

The dollar rose to 108.70 yen from 108.42 yen. Brent crude, used to price global oils, fell $1.46, or 2.7 percent, to $53.43 per barrel in London. The euro edged down to $1.0711 from $1.0730. The Russell 2000 index, which is made up of smaller companies that tend to be more US -focused, added 5.24 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,367.13 after a late gain a day ago.

British stocks are vulnerable to a rising pound because more than two-thirds of FTSE 100 company earnings are derived from operations overseas.

Meanwhile, the major European markets ended the day mixed. China's Shanghai Composite Index slid by 0.8%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 0.4%.

Nikkei 225 was up 0.07%.

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