By Amy Caren Daniel
(Reuters) – U.S. stocks gained on Thursday, as strong corporate earnings, including from software company Microsoft and automaker Ford, helped ease nerves following a steep selloff in the prior session that sent the Nasdaq into correction territory.
Microsoft (O:MSFT) jumped 6.1 percent after topping consensus estimates for revenue and profit, helped by strong demand for its Azure cloud computing and Office 365 software products.
The results, along with gains for chipmakers, lifted technology stocks (SPLRCT) up 2.32 percent. The sector has lost about 10 percent in October and, if losses hold it would be the worst month for the high-growth sector in nearly 10 years.
Ford Motor (N:F), which is struggling with sales in China, surged 7.4 percent as its earnings report raised hopes for a strong finish to the year, while Raytheon (N:RTN) up -1.2 percent after the U.S. defense contractor raised its full-year forecast.
The results offered hope to Wall Street, battered this week by a series of sluggish outlooks from manufacturers and chipmakers worried about the impact of tariffs, a slowdown in China on profits and global growth.
That, along with worries ranging from rising borrowing costs and bond yields to Italy's budget and upcoming U.S. mid-term elections, sparked a rout on Wall Street on Wednesday.
"There's a sense of nervousness and caution because a lot of people were caught off guard by the drop yesterday," Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida said.
"At this point it's all about sentiment. People are looking for things to settle down and I think we need to see more concrete evidence of that."
At 9:59 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was up 213.46 points, or 0.87 percent, at 24,796.88, the S&P 500 (SPX) was up 30.19 points, or 1.14 percent, at 2,686.29 and the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) was up 140.58 points, or 1.98 percent, at 7,248.99.
The newly revamped communication services sector (SPLRCL) jumped 2.38 percent, the most among the seven major S&P sectors trading higher.
Twitter (N:TWTR) rose 18.6 percent after strong ad sales boosted third-quarter profit, while Comcast (O:CMCSA) gained 18.6 percent after the media company's quarterly results beat Wall Street estimates.
The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index (SOX) rose 1.39 percent, helped by Xilinx's 15.3 percent rise, while Intel (O:INTC), AMD's chief rival, gained 2.4 percent ahead of its quarterly report due after the closing bell.
In contrast, Advanced Micro Devices shares (O:AMD) slid 12.5 percent after the chipmaker forecast fourth-quarter revenue below estimates.
Results from the S&P 500 companies have pushed up third-quarter profit growth estimates to 22.4 percent from an earlier 21.6 percent, but the run of dour outlooks has pulled down fourth-quarter growth estimates to 19.5 percent from 20 percent, according to Refinitiv data.
Tesla (O:TSLA) surged 9.1 percent after the electric carmaker made good on billionaire Chief Executive Elon Musk's promise of a quarterly profit.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.71-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.99-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded no new 52-week highs and 24 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded five new highs and 107 new lows.