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S&P posts slight gains on industrials, IBM drags

(Reuters) – The benchmark S&P 500 index posted slight gains on Wednesday, helped by gains from industrial and energy stocks, but IBM’s disappointing results and a sell-off in semiconductor stocks weighed on the Nasdaq and the Dow.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

IBM (IBM.N) fell 6.2 percent after the company reported quarterly profit margins that fell short of Wall Street expectations.

Semiconductor stocks .SOX also took a hit, led by Lam Research’s (LRCX.O) 5 percent drop after what analysts called a disappointing shipment forecast. The S&P technology index .SPLRCT fell about 0.5 percent.

Not all results were disappointing. Morgan Stanley (MS.N) rose 3 percent after it reported a 40 percent jump in quarterly profit, driven by its trading business.

United Airlines (UAL.N) rose 1.6 percent after reporting a rise in profit and CSX Corp (CSX.O) jumped 7 percent after the railroad operator topped profit estimates. That helped lift the Dow Jones Transport index by 1.2 percent.

Oil prices jumped about 2 percent, lifted by a reported decline in U.S. crude inventories and the risk of supply disruptions. Exxon (XOM.N) and Chevron (CVX.N) were up about 1.3 percent.

S&P 500 companies are expected to post an 18.6 percent rise in profits in the first quarter, the biggest increase in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Stocks have gained solidly in the past two days after strong results from industry bellwethers as well as positive economic data helped investors turn attention away from geopolitical and trade tensions.

At 10:08 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 0.14 percent at 24,751.47. The S&P 500 .SPX was up 0.02 percent at 2,707.05 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 0.12 percent at 7,272.62.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE for a 1.84-to-1 ratio, and on the Nasdaq, for a 1.27-to-1 ratio.

(Corrects to Wednesday in first paragraph)

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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