The S&P 500 index has notched a fresh record high as gains in Apple’s shares after forecast-beating results powered a rally in technology stocks ahead of the Federal Reserve’s latest policy announcement.
Shares of the iPhone-maker jumped 5.3 per cent on Wednesday after the company said sales in China were steadying and touted how rising demand for its services and accessories helped offset a record drop in iPhone revenue.
The company also announced plans for a new $US75 billion ($A107 billion) share buyback and bumped up its cash dividend by 5 per cent, putting it on course to reclaim $US1 trillion in market capitalisation.
Apple’s shares boosted the S&P 500 index, which clocked another record closing high on Tuesday and registered its best four-month rally in nearly nine years.
The technology sector gained about 0.7 per cent, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors.
“Many were expecting an earnings recession and we haven’t had that and we’re still positive on growth,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
“It’s been a good earnings season overall, Apple could potentially be positive for the tech sector overall.”
Analysts are now more optimistic on first-quarter earnings growth and expect a 0.5 per cent rise compared with a 2 per cent fall estimated at the beginning of April, according to Refinitiv data.
Of the 305 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, 76 per cent have topped Wall Street estimates.
Besides a largely upbeat earnings season, recent gains in shares have also been powered by positive economic data, a dovish Federal Reserve and signs of progress in US-China trade talks.
Investors will also look for direction on monetary policy when the Fed concludes its two-day meeting later in the day.
The central bank is largely expected to keep borrowing costs unchanged and maintain a “patient” monetary policy stance despite President Donald Trump’s call to cut rates.
The financials sector, which tend to benefit from a rising rate environment, rose 0.24 per cent, with S&P banks up 0.46 per cent.
At 9.57am local time on Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 49.55 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 26,642.46; the S&P 500 was up 3.71 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 2,949.54; and the Nasdaq Composite was up 27.01 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 8,122.40.
CVS Health jumped 4.2 per cent after the drugstore chain operator and pharmacy benefits manager raised its full-year profit forecast after reporting a quarterly profit beat.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings gained 6.4 per cent, the most among S&P 500 companies, after the hotel operator reported quarterly revenue above analysts expectations.
The healthcare sector fell 0.6 per cent, as shares of Amgen fell 4.2 per cent after the world’s largest biotech reported first-quarter revenue that was unchanged from a year ago.
In economic data, ADP’s National Employment Report showed private employers added 275,000 jobs in April, higher than consensus estimate of 180,000 additions.
The private survey comes ahead of the much anticipated government jobs report on Friday, which is expected to show fewer job additions last month compared with March.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.39 to 1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.03 to 1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 34 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 58 new highs and 21 new lows.