Market Wrap: Stocks Rise on Upbeat Earnings from Berkshire

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Dow Plunges Over 200 Points
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By Noel Randewich

NEW YORK -- Wall Street ended higher Monday as corporate earnings came in better than feared, although shares of McDonald's declined after the fast-food chain's turnaround plan left investors wanting more.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) rose 1.62 percent, giving the biggest boost to the S&P 500 after the insurance and investment conglomerate's results beat forecasts.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 46.34 points, or 0.26 percent, to end at 18,070.4, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) gained 6.2 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,114.49, just shy of its record-high close of 2,117.69 on April 24.

The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 11.54 points, or 0.23 percent, to 5,016.93.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-Things in Europe seem pretty calm, we haven't heard anything out of China, and against that backdrop, some of the earnings reports are looking better.%"This is being driven by a lack of substantial negative news," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois. "Things in Europe seem pretty calm, we haven't heard anything out of China, and against that backdrop, some of the earnings reports are looking better."

Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH) surged 6.15 percent after the provider of information technology services reported a better-than-expected rise in revenue and raised its full-year forecast.

Seven of the 10 S&P sectors were positive, with the financials index gaining 0.98 percent and the utilities index 0.73 percent higher, with investors attracted by relatively high dividends.

With three-quarters of corporate earnings reports in, Wall Street is now trying to divine when the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates. An April payroll report due Friday could give a hint.

Weak Rebound

While new orders for U.S. factory goods recorded their biggest increase in eight months in March, the underlying trend remained weak against the backdrop of a strong dollar, a further sign that a rebound in economic growth wouldn't be as strong as last year.

Monday's rally in utilities suggested some investors believe the Fed won't raise rates soon and may be looking for yield, Jankovskis said. The S&P utilities index has a dividend yield of 3.7 percent, compared to the S&P 500's 2.4 percent dividend yield.

McDonald's (MCD) closed 1.71 percent lower after its plan to turn the fast-food chain into a "modern, progressive burger company" failed to impress shareholders.

Shares of Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) fell 1.88 percent and the S&P 500 energy index lost 1.39 percent after David Einhorn, the influential head of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, said at a conference that oil fracking companies can "contaminate portfolio returns."

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,758 to 1,287, for a 1.37-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,593 issues rose and 1,158 fell for a 1.38-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 14 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 55 new highs and 35 new lows.

About 5.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7.2 billion daily average for the last five sessions, according to data from BATS Global Markets.

What to watch Tuesday:
  • The Commerce Department releases international trade data for March at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for April at 10 a.m.
Earnings Season
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
  • Allstate (ALL)
  • Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM)
  • Bloomin' Brands (BLMN)
  • Devon Energy (DVN)
  • DirecTV (DTV)
  • Discovery Communications (DISCA)(DISCK)
  • Electronic Arts (EA)
  • Emerson Electric Co. (EMR)
  • Energizer Holdings (ENR)
  • Estee Lauder Cos. (EL)
  • Fiserv (FISV)
  • Fossil Group (FOSL)
  • Frontier Communications (FTR)
  • Groupon (GRPN)
  • Herbalife (HLF)
  • HSBC Holdings (HSBC)
  • Kellogg (K)
  • Mylan (MYL)
  • Newfield Exploration Co. (NFX)
  • News Corporation (NWSA)(NWS)
  • Office Depot (ODP)
  • Sabre Corporation (SABR)
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. (SMG)
  • Sempra Energy (SRE)
  • SolarCity (SCTY)
  • Sprint (S)
  • Sun Life Financial (SLF)
  • Towers Watson & Co. (TW)
  • UBS (UBS)
  • Walt Disney Co. (DIS)
  • Zoetis (ZTS)
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Market Wrap: Stocks Rise on Upbeat Earnings from Berkshire
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