By Stephen Culp
(Reuters) - Wall Street ended slightly higher on Wednesday after a spate of upbeat earnings reports, but lingering concerns about trade tensions and the longest U.S. government shutdown ever limited the advance.
All three major U.S. stock indexes closed in positive territory, with the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average seeing the biggest gains on positive quarterly results from International Business Machines
Investor sentiment was dampened by reports that business leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, were losing confidence in President Donald Trump's policies that have resulted in the prolonged U.S.-China trade stand-off.
Uncertainty persisted in Washington, where no end to the longest-ever federal government shutdown appeared to be in sight.
The United States could see zero growth in the first quarter if the shutdown extends through March, according to White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Wednesday.
"The headlines coming out of Davos are rehashing some of the pessimism," said Matthew Keator, partner in the Keator Group, a wealth management firm in Lenox, Massachusetts.
"We are in a more anxious market here, coming off the lows of the fourth quarter," Keator added. "People's wounds are still fresh."
Still, a spate of positive earnings helped boost the Dow.
IBM provided the biggest boost to the Dow, rising 8.5 percent after cloud and software services helped its profit come in above analyst estimates and the company offered better-than-expected guidance for 2019.
Procter & Gamble advanced 4.9 percent after the company upped its full-year sales forecast and took advantage of price increases and strong demand to beat analyst earnings estimates.
United Technologies reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and forecast 2019 earnings above analyst estimates. The industrial conglomerate's stock ended the session 5.4 percent higher.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 171.14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,575.62, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 5.8 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,638.7 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 5.41 points, or 0.08 percent, to 7,025.77.
Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, only energy <.SPNY> and materials <.SPLRCM> closed in the red.
Fourth-quarter reporting season is in full swing, and of the 15 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported, 77.6 percent have beaten analyst estimates, according to Refinitiv data.
Analysts now see S&P 500 earnings growth of 14.2 percent in the quarter.
Shares of Tesla Inc
After the bell, Ford Motor Co
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.05-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.02-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 4 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 16 new highs and 45 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.83 billion shares, compared to the 7.82 billion average over the last 20 trading days.
(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)
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Updated Date: Jan 24, 2019 04:05:35 IST