Stocks wobble on Wall Street as investors review earnings

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Stocks wobbled in midday trading on Wall Street Thursday as investors reviewed the latest earnings reports from retailers and an update on the employment market.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2% as of 11:40 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 91 points, or 0.3%, to 35,839 and the Nasdaq rose 0.3%.

Roughly 70% of the benchmark S&P 500 companies fell, but gains by several large technology companies helped offset losses in other sectors.

Financial companies had some of the broadest losses. American Express fell 1.5% and insurer Allstate fell 1.1%.

Bond yields edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.58% from 1.60% late Wednesday.

Consumer staples makers and industrial companies also fell. Kraft Heinz fell 3.2% and General Electric fell 2.4%.

Solid earnings results helped lift a handful of companies.

Nvidia jumped 10.5% after the maker of graphics chips for gaming and artificial intelligence reported strong third-quarter financial results. Other chipmakers also gained ground. Advanced Micro Devices rose 3.7% and Micron Technology rose 1%.

Companies that rely on consumer spending on goods and services also fared well following solid earnings reports from retailers. Macy’s surged 19.8% after the department store chain handily beat Wall Street’s third-quarter profit forecasts. Kohl’s jumped 7% after also reporting encouraging earnings.

Investors received an encouraging update on the closely watched employment market, which is viewed as a key factor in the economy’s continued recovery.

The Labor Department said that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell for the seventh straight week to a pandemic low of 268,000.

U.S. stocks have been powering mostly higher over the last month as companies reported much stronger profits for the summer than analysts expected. Investors have shifted much of their focus to the threat from rising inflation. Companies are facing higher raw materials costs and supply chain problems that could crimp profits. Consumers have so far absorbed higher prices, but analysts fear they could eventually rein in their spending if higher prices persist too long.

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