US STOCKS-Wall St slightly up as earnings season picks up pace

Reuters

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* BlackRock falls after quarterly results miss estimates * Netflix to report results after market close * Microsoft, Goldman, Johnson & Johnson results awaited * Indexes up: Dow 0.07 pct, S&P 0.09 pct, Nasdaq 0.15 pct (Updates to early afternoon) By Tanya Agrawal July 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher and stayed near record levels in early afternoon trading on Monday, with investors waiting for big U.S. companies to report their quarterly earnings. Analysts' are estimating an 8.2 percent rise in second-quarter earnings for the S&P 500 companies from a year earlier. This follows a robust first quarter when U.S. companies posted their best earnings since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data. Microsoft MSFT.O , IBM IBM.N and Johnson and Johnson JNJ.N are scheduled to report results this week. Netflix NFLX.O will report results after the market close on Monday. Earnings will be closely watched to see if high valuations are justified in the face of tepid inflation and a recent patch of mixed economic data. The S&P 500 has been trading at about 18 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months, compared with the long-term average of 15 times. "After new highs that we saw last week, the market deserves a rest as investors await big earnings this week," said Dave Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management. "Our view is that right now the equity market is a one-legged stool that's driven by earnings and we're pretty optimistic about earnings but if that should falter, the market will falter." At 12:38 p.m. ET (1638 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 14.93 points, or 0.07 percent, at 21,652.67, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 2.42 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,461.69. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 9.60 points, or 0.15 percent, at 6,322.07. Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the materials index's .SPLRCM 0.37 percent rise leading the advancers. The financial sector .SPSY was little changed after results and forecasts on Friday by big banks such as JPMorgan JPM.N , Citigroup C.N and Wells Fargo WFC.N failed to excite investors. Bank of America BAC.N , Morgan Stanley MS.N , Goldman Sachs GS.N will report results later this week. The Dow and the S&P hit record highs on Friday after weak economic data dulled prospects of more interest rate hikes this year. Shares of BlackRock BLK.N fell 3.4 percent after the world's biggest asset manager's quarterly profit came in below expectations. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1K83O4 Meal-kit company Blue Apron Holdings APRN.N fell 10.3 percent after an Amazon AMZN.O unit filed a trademark for a competing meal-kit service earlier this month. Amazon was up 1 percent and provided the biggest boost to the Nasdaq. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,709 to 1,112. On the Nasdaq, 1,570 issues rose and 1,183 fell. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Arun Koyyur) ((tanya.agrawal@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6749 1130; Reuters Messaging: tanya.agrawal.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: USA STOCKS/

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