Wall Street edged up on Wednesday as a rebound in oil prices added to the optimism sparked by a raft of earnings reports that beat tempered expectations.
Crude reversed course sharply and gained about 2 percent after a report showed U.S. inventories grew less than expected last week. [O/R]
A three-day strike by Kuwaiti workers had driven prices higher and helped the S&P 500 breach 2,100 on Tuesday, about 30 points shy of its record high.
Investors are focused on the earnings season as they seek catalysts that will drive stocks. Big-bank earnings reports last week were better than expected and helped lift sentiment, even though expectations for profit growth this quarter are bleak.
First-quarter earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to have fallen 7.5 percent on average and revenues are seen dipping 1.3 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"The momentum is still skewed to the positive despite the earnings data and some of the mixed economic data," said Anthony Valeri, an investment strategist for LPL Financial in San Diego.
Valeri said the improvement in China and continued stability in the price of oil were also adding to the positive sentiment.
Data on Wednesday showed U.S. home resales rose more than expected in March, pointing to a continued recovery in the housing market, despite signs of sluggish first-quarter economic growth.
At 12:39 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 65.98 points, or 0.37 percent, at 18,119.58.
The S&P 500 .SPX was up 5.06 points, or 0.24 percent, at 2,105.86. The index hit a record high of 2,134.74 in May.
The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 17.11 points, or 0.35 percent, at 4,957.44.
Six of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 1 percent rise in energy .SPNY.
Better-than-expected quarterly profits pushed stocks higher, with VMWare (VMW.N) up nearly 14 percent, Discover Financial Services (DFS.N) 7.6 percent, St. Jude Medical (STJ.N) 3.6 percent, Yahoo (YHOO.O) 3.3 percent and EMC (EMC.N) 3.2 percent.
Coca-Cola (KO.N) fell 4.3 percent to $44.59 after sales dropped for the fourth straight quarter. The stock was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and the second biggest on the Dow.
Lexmark (LXK.N) jumped 10 percent to $38.12 after it agreed to be taken private by a group of investors led by China-based Apex Technology Co and PAG Asia Capital in a deal valued at $3.6 billion net of cash.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,606 to 1,295. On the Nasdaq, 1,431 issues rose and 1,257 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 18 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 41 new highs and 11 lows.
(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)
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