U.S. stocks edged higher Wednesday morning, boosted by strong corporate earnings results from tech giant Apple Inc. and aerospace titan Boeing Co., after the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 300 points in intraday trading during the previous session. Economists and traders are awaiting a statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve Wednesday following the central bank’s first policy meeting of the year, looking for clues as to when the Fed could begin to hike interest rates, which are currently at historic lows.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which measures the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, gained 70.03 points, or 0.40 percent, at 17,457.24; the S&P 500 stock index added 9.92 points, or 0.49 percent, at 2,039.64. The Nasdaq Composite rose 43.65 points, or 0.93 percent, at 4,726.14.
Shares of Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) jumped 4.23 percent to $138.09 Wednesday after the aerospace company’s quarterly profit leaped 19 percent, helped by an increase in deliveries for commercial aircraft. Boeing reported that its fourth-quarter earnings rose to $2.31 per share from $1.88 a year earlier, as revenue rose to $24.5 billion from $23.78 billion during the same period in 2013.
Meanwhile, shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) jumped 7.84 percent to $117.70 in morning trading Wednesday after the company posted a record 74.5 million iPhone sales last quarter, smashing Wall Street expectations of 65.7 million. Apple reported a record fiscal first-quarter profit of $3.06 per share on revenue of $74.6 billion.
The Dow plunged more than 300 points in intraday trading Tuesday after a mixed bag of U.S. economic data and earnings weighed on investor enthusiasm. Weaker-than-expected results from Microsoft Corporation, Caterpillar Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. and Pfizer Inc. caused concern about headwinds U.S. multinational companies are facing due to a strong U.S. dollar.
“What we’re seeing now is the effects of the stronger dollar show up in the U.S. earnings of large-cap companies, and that’s reflecting a slowdown globally in markets. It’s starting to wash onto our shores, and that could impact on near-term volatility,” said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
Data Tuesday showed durable goods orders for business equipment, a key indicator for growth of the U.S. economy, dropped 3.4 percent in December, signaling weak demand from U.S. multinationals as the global economy continues to slow.
But analysis say a good sector to watch to gauge the overall health of the global economy is technology companies, according to Kravetz. "If you look at tech, software, hardware and semiconductor companies, those are good places to look to see how the economy is performing, not only in the U.S., but globally. But you do have to be careful about reading too much into one quarter, or one number, because the trend of a lot of these tech companies is favorable overall," he said.
Investors will turn their attention to social networking giant Facebook Inc., which is slated to post quarterly results after the closing bell Wednesday. Wall Street projects the Menlo Park, California-based company will report fiscal fourth-quarter net income $1.4 billion, or earnings per share of 25 cents, on revenue of $3.78 billion, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. That compares with a profit of $780 million, or earnings per share of 20 cents, on revenue of $2.59 billion a year ago.
Shares of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) are currently trading more than 1 percent up at $76.74 ahead of the report.
Economists will get a glimpse into the overall health of the U.S. economy as the Federal Reserve ends its first two-day policy meeting of the year Wednesday. The Federal Open Market Committee will release a statement Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST following the meeting.