Stocks Rise on Services Data, Earnings


U.S. stocks rose Wednesday as investors considered another wave of corporate earnings reports and a key reading on the services sector hit a three-month high.

The S&P 500 rose 1.1%, recouping losses after falling Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.1%. The Nasdaq Composite gained 2.1%. 

Stocks had come under renewed pressure in recent days from geopolitical tensions as U.S. House Speaker

Nancy Pelosi

met with Taiwan’s president despite warnings from China. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve officials said the central bank is likely to continue raising interest rates at coming meetings, dampening hopes in markets that slowing economic growth could mean a change in policy.

So far Ms. Pelosi’s trip hasn’t had any tangible ramifications, and some better-than-expected earnings reports amid low liquidity in August are lifting sentiment, investors say.

“Markets are taking a bit of a breather to assess what’s going on globally,” said Olivier Marciot, global macro portfolio manager at Unigestion. “There is still a lot of inflation, central banks are keeping that hawkish rhetoric and we get some geopolitics on top of that.”

But earnings have been pretty good, in terms of beating expectations, he added.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.764% from 2.740% Tuesday. Weak economic data have weighed on yields in recent days, according to Michael Hewson, markets analyst at CMC Markets. There are “raised concerns that the U.S. economy could well be slowing sharply,” he said.

Despite those worries, the U.S. services sector continued to expand in July, according to a report from the Institute for Supply Management. The ISM’s index of conditions for businesses like restaurants, hotels and retailers hit a three-month high in July.

The broader problem for investors is that whether or not the economy is technically in recession, inflation and the pressure it puts on the Fed to raise rates is resulting in an environment for investors that is fundamentally different from anything they have seen over the past several decades, said Eaton Vance portfolio manager Aaron Dunn. That won’t end soon, he said.

There has been a bounce back recently in some of the more beaten-up stocks, he said, but those hoping the growth trade returns may be disappointed. “Equities returns are going to be a grind,” he added.

In corporate news,

PayPal

shares jumped 9.6% after hedge fund Elliott Management confirmed it has a $2 billion stake in the payments company. Starbucks rose 3.4% after it said demand is still strong and raising prices partially offset higher labor costs.

Vaccine maker

Moderna

rose 15% after it posted earnings above analysts’ estimates and said it would begin a new $3 billion share repurchase program.

Airbnb

declined 2.7% after it said it swung back to profit but its outlook disappointed investors. Online dating group

Match

tumbled 18% after posting results that missed estimates and said the CEO of Tinder is leaving the firm

Chip maker

Advanced Micro Devices

fell 3.6% after it reported a drop in profit and issued guidance for the current period that came below Wall Street’s expectations. 

Clorox,

MGM Resorts,

and insurers

MetLife

and

Allstate

are scheduled to report earnings after markets close.

Investors say better-than-expected earnings reports amid low liquidity in August are lifting sentiment.



Photo:

ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS

Oil prices fell after an OPEC+ meeting where a committee suggested a smaller-than-expected production increase, according to delegates. U.S. crude fell 3.2% to $91.40.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 ticked up 0.5%. British-listed cybersecurity firm

Avast

soared 44% after a U.K. regulator said it has provisionally cleared

NortonLifeLock’s

$7.3 billion acquisition of the company. French

bank Société Générale

rose 3.1% after reporting a narrower loss than analysts expected, despite its exit from Russia.

In Asia, major benchmarks were mixed. The Shanghai Composite Index ticked down 0.7%, extending losses after it closed down 2.3% on Tuesday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.4% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.5%.

Write to Anna Hirtenstein at anna.hirtenstein@wsj.com and Paul Vigna at Paul.Vigna@wsj.com

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