US stocks mostly higher on earnings

<p>Amazon, General Motors, Caterpillar and McDonald’s all posted earnings today.</p>

US stocks mostly traded higher this morning (July 23rd) as investors reacted to a string of earnings including Amazon, General Motors, Caterpillar and McDonald's.

The S&P 500 opened 0.1 per cent up at 2,116.38, the Nasdaq Composite added 0.3 per cent to 5,186.25 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was edged down 0.1 per cent to 17,840.

Caterpillar unveiled profit of $1.27 (£0.82) per share for the second quarter, which was in line with expectations. However, the company cut its revenue forecast for the year, citing currency impact and a soft economic environment. The company's shares fell more than three per cent in pre-market trade.

General Motors earned an adjusted $1.29 per share, 21 cents above estimates, but revenue was below forecasts due to currency impact.

McDonald's posted better-than-expected quarterly adjusted earnings of $1.26 a share, however, US sales fell again.

"The earnings results overall are once again coming in better than analysts' marked-down expectations in front of the reports," said analyst Patrick O'Hare.

"That doesn't make the overall results good in a true sense. It just makes them better than feared."

Jobless claims at 42-year low

Meanwhile, weekly jobless claims came in at 255,000, the lowest level since 1973, which beat economists forecasts. The steep drop in applications for unemployment benefits fuelled speculation that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates sooner rather than later.

Yesterday, stocks slid after tech companies posted disappointing results, including Apple and Microsoft.

The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.7 per cent to 5,165 and Apple shares tumbled 4.2 per cent. Microsoft posted its biggest quarterly loss, with shares tumbling 3.7 per cent. 

Kim Caughey Forrest, senior analyst and portfolio manager at Fort Pitt Capital Group, told MarketWatch Apple isn’t the only reason why tech stocks sold off.

"The bigger question is how the economy is doing and results from Microsoft, Intel and IBM all point to sluggish IT spending by businesses," she said.

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