Raindrops hang on a sign for Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., October 26, 2020.
Raindrops hang on a sign for Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., October 26, 2020. Reuters / MIKE SEGAR

Wall Street edged higher on Thursday as strong earnings from Meta Platforms lifted battered technology and growth stocks and offset concerns around a contraction in U.S. economic growth in the first quarter.

The Facebook-parent rose 12.4% after it reported a stronger-than-expected profit and the social-networking site eked out user growth.

Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors advanced in early trading, with technology and communication services leading gains.

Apple Inc, the world's most valuable company, and e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc gained 1.9% and 2.1%, respectively, ahead of their earnings later in the day.

"The general thesis from earnings so far is things have been pretty good," said Jack Janasiewicz, portfolio strategists with Natixis Investment Managers.

"But until you get greater clarity on how inflation is going to be playing out over the next couple of quarters, and what the reaction from the Fed is going to be, the earnings that we've seen will help maybe keep the market range bound."

A U.S. Commerce Department report showed gross domestic product fell at a 1.4% annualized rate last quarter after clocking 6.9% growth in the fourth quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the economy growing at a 1.1% rate.

The slump in output reflected a wider trade deficit and moderate pace of inventory accumulation. While the headline figure could lead to howls about stagflation and recession from some quarters, it is not a true reflection of the economy.

The Ukraine war, China's COVID lockdowns and surging inflation have weighed on the outlook for global economy, sparking volatility across markets in April.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq is set for its worst monthly performance in years as investors dumped high-growth stocks on fears that rising interest rates will threaten future earnings and Netflix Inc posted a shocking subscriber loss.

At 10:14 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 91.62 points, or 0.28%, at 33,393.55, the S&P 500 was up 23.91 points, or 0.57%, at 4,207.87, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 65.03 points, or 0.52%, at 12,553.96.

Twitter Inc, which has agreed to a $44 billion sale to Elon Musk, fell 0.4%, as overall revenue and advertising sales fell short of analyst estimates, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Overall, first-quarter earnings have been better than expected, with nearly 80% of the 176 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results through Thursday beating Wall Street expectations. Typically, only 66% of companies beat estimates.

Qualcomm Inc jumped 5% after the chipmaker forecast third-quarter revenue above analyst expectations. Peers Nvidia Corp and Advanced Micro Devices Inc climbed more than 1% each.

Caterpillar Inc slipped 4.8% as it indicated profit margins in the current quarter were likely to be pressured from surging costs, while Amgen Inc fell 5.4% after the drugmaker said the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is seeking additional back taxes of $5.1 billion.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.11-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.34-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week highs and 23 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 18 new highs and 372 new lows.