Market Snapshot: Dow trades up more than 200 points, propelled by first-quarter earnings

U.S. stocks climbed Tuesday midday, with the Dow advancing more than 200 points, as investors cheered earnings results as well as positive economic data.

What are the main benchmarks doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.88%  rose 262 points, or 1.1%, to 24,835, with 25 of its 30 components trading higher. The gain pushed the blue-chip gauge back into positive territory for the year for the first time in about a month.

The S&P 500 index SPX, +1.00%  added 30 points, or 1.1% to 2,707, with 10 of its 11 main sectors trading higher. Technology and consumer-discretionary sectors were leading the gains, up nearly 2%.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +1.61%  gained 126 points, or 1.8%, to 7,281.

What’s driving markets

An upbeat attitude toward first-quarter earnings remained a driving factor for stocks. S&P 500-listed companies are expected to see earnings growth of 17.3% for the period, the fastest rate since 2011.

Better-than-expected data on housing and industrial production as well as growth numbers from China provided benign economic background for Tuesday’s trading session.

China reported forecast-beating first-quarter economic growth of 6.8% on Tuesday. That growth was lifted by surprisingly strong exports, suggesting U.S. trade tensions have yet to make an impact.

Meanwhile, a lack of escalation in the trade tensions between China and the U.S. has also emboldened investors.

See: Ban on U.S. companies selling to ZTE could really hurt this stock

Elsewhere, U.S. and U.K. officials warned that Russia has increased cyberattacks on American and British companies and government agencies. Relations between the three countries have been strained since the U.S., France and Britain launched missile attacks on the chemical-weapons facilities of the Russian-supported Syrian government.

Which stocks are in focus?

Goldman Sachs GS, -1.48% gave up early returns and turned negative, trading 1% lower after the bank reported higher profit and revenue from a year ago.

UnitedHealth Group UNH, +2.88%  lifted guidance after reporting a nearly 31% profit rise in its latest quarter and shares rose 3%. Johnson & Johnson JNJ, -1.29%  was up 1.3% lower even as profit and revenue beat forecasts and the pharmaceutical and consumer products group lifted its sales outlook.

Reports from IBM Corp. IBM, +1.74%  and United Continental Holdings Inc. UAL, -0.46%  are due after the close.

Netflix Inc. NFLX, +9.37% shot up 9.5%, after the streaming-media company reported first-quarter results late Monday that blew past Wall Street forecasts. The company’s shares hit an all-time high in intraday trade Tuesday.

Plus: Analysts applaud Netflix for another ‘home-run quarter’

Read: Netflix is growing at a stunning rate—and so are its profits

Tesla Inc. TSLA, -0.75%  shares were unchanged after the electric-car maker confirmed it has halted production of its Model 3 auto for a second time.

Technology companies rallied on Tuesday. Twitter Inc. TWTR, +9.92%  shares surged 10% after Morgan Stanley analysts upgraded the stock to equal-weight from underweight. Shares of Alphabet Inc. GOOG, +3.03%  and Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +2.26%  were up about 3%, while Apple Inc. AAPL, +1.29%  rose 1.5%.

What are strategists saying?

“Solid, better-than-expected earnings are the medicine that this market needed. And let’s not forget economic data: good housing starts today and positive retail sales on Monday are also helping drive the market higher,” said Karyn Cavanaugh, senior market strategist at Voya Financial.

Jeroen Blokland, portfolio manager on the Robeco Global Allocation team, chalked the move higher for U.S. stocks up to several factors: “No immediate further escalation on trade (although this is very shaky at the moment); earnings living up to expectations, which is pretty OK given the fact that expectations are demanding; China’s economy (for what it’s worth) is still doing OK, even though credit growth is going down,” he told MarketWatch.

What is on the economic docket?

Housing starts ran at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.32 million in March, up 2%, compared with February, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Separately, industrial production in March rose 0.5%, slightly above forecast of a 0.4% gain.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Fed President John Williams, who has said he backs three or four gradual interest rate rises this year, is scheduled to give a speech in Madrid.

What are other markets doing?

Asian markets had a mostly weaker session, led by Taiwan’s Taiex Y9999, -1.32% European stocks SXXP, +0.80% were mostly higher. The FTSE 100 index UKX, +0.39%  also turned higher after the pound GBPUSD, -0.3208%  lost ground against the dollar.

Gold futures GCM8, -0.19% GCM8, -0.19% were off 0.4% at $1,345 an ounce, and the ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, +0.20% DXY, +0.20% inched 0.2% higher to 89.639. May West Texas Intermediate crude CLK8, -0.03% retreated in volatile trade, down 0.4% at $65.94 a barrel.

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