While you were sleeping: Apple bolsters optimism

Wall Street was mixed, as investors digested the latest quarterly earnings including from Apple and Boeing, amid ongoing concern about violence in Ukraine and Gaza.

By and large the US second-quarter earnings season has so far underpinned an upbeat outlook for corporate profits.

Shares of Apple climbed, last up 2.7 percent, after its quarterly results bolstered optimism about the company's margins and new product pipeline. At least six brokerages raised their price targets on the stock by as much as US$12 to a high of US$123, according to Reuters.

Shares of PepsiCo also gained, last up 2.9 percent, after the company's second-quarter earnings beat expectations and the company lifted its full-year earnings forecast.

"Despite operating in what continues to be a challenging and volatile macro environment, we are delivering consistent, strong results," PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said in a statement.

In late afternoon trading in New York, the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.21 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.39 percent. Earlier in the session the S&P 500 touched an intraday record high of 1,989.23.

"Earnings season has been going very well, beating on both the top and bottom line, which suggests companies will continue to execute well," Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta, Georgia, told Reuters.

Even so, he Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.14 percent. Declines in shares of Boeing and Caterpillar, down 2.4 percent and 1.4 percent respectively, pulled the Dow lower.

Boeing shares dropped as investors' concern over a cost for an aerial tanker outweighed the company's better-than-expected quarterly earnings and an upgrade for its full-year profit forecast.

"It is worrying that Boeing is booking a charge of this magnitude at a relatively early stage in this long-term program, particularly given recent assurances from management that everything was going to plan," Rob Stallard, a New York-based aerospace analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said in a note to investors, Bloomberg News reported.

The International Monetary Fund downgraded its 2014 forecast for the US economy, predicting it will grow 1.7 percent, down from an earlier prediction of 2 percent, because of the contraction in the first quarter of this year.

"The US recovery is gathering steam but managing the exit from zero interest rates and boosting potential growth remain top priorities," the IMF said in its most recent report on the world's largest economy.

"The IMF expects growth to accelerate in the remainder of this year (in the 3-to-3.5-percent range), as employment improves, firms boost production, sales and orders of durable goods pick up, and confidence returns."

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.1 percent advance from the previous close. Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 both rose 0.2 percent, while the UK's FTSE 100 Index eked out a 0.04 percent gain.

A European Commission report showed that consumer confidence in the euro zone unexpectedly slid, falling to minus 8.4 in July, from minus 7.5 in June.

(BusinessDesk)

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