NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stock markets edged higher on Thursday amid upbeat earnings reports from a slew of companies worldwide, while the British pound slipped.
Sterling lost ground as the possibility of a snap UK election and uncertainty over the European Union’s decision on granting Britain an extension on its plan to leave the EU pulled the currency further off recent 5-1/2 month highs.
The latest estimate for third-quarter earnings for companies on the benchmark U.S. S&P 500 index improved slightly. Earnings are now expected to have declined 2.3% year-over-year in the quarter versus an estimated decline of 2.9% on Wednesday, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
The market is reacting to “micro volatility, which is driven by individual company names, and macro calm around trade,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.
Third-quarter earnings reports remained centre stage on Wall Street, with investors trying to gauge the fallout from a prolonged U.S.-China trade war, which has already shown up in the domestic economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 48.07 points, or 0.18%, to 26,785.88, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 3.92 points, or 0.13%, to 3,008.44 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 48.90 points, or 0.6%, to 8,168.70.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.23%. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.48%.
German companies, including Daimler, helped to boost Europe’s indexes.
The euro EUR= was down 0.27% at $1.1099.
Sterling GBP= was last trading at $1.2837, down 0.61% on the day.
EU member states on Wednesday delayed a decision on whether to grant Britain a three-month Brexit extension. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said if the deadline is deferred to the end of January, he would call an election.
In commodities, U.S. crude CLcv1 rose 0.16% to $56.06 per barrel and Brent LCOcv1 was last at $61.35, up 0.29% on the day.
Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London and Shreyashi Sanyal and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru and Sujata Rao; Editing by Bernadette Baum