US STOCKS-Wall Street rises as Fed's Williams cements rate-cut expectations

Reuters

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    * Netflix tumbles as U.S. subscribers drop
    * Union Pacific, Phillip Morris jump after results
    * Indexes higher: Dow 0.01%, S&P 0.36%, Nasdaq 0.27%

 (Updates to market close)
    By Evan Sully
    NEW YORK, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks moved higher on
Thursday after a slow start as comments from New York Fed
President John Williams helped cement expectations for an
interest rate cut from the U.S. central bank at the end of the
month.
    Williams said that when rates and inflation are low,
policymakers cannot afford to keep their "powder dry" and wait
for potential economic problems to materialize.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N24J16B
    "He's toeing the party line at the Fed, basically implying
that an insurance rate cut is the right thing to do for the
economy at this point in time," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief
investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte,
North Carolina.
    Before Williams' comments, stocks had been lower as shares
of Netflix Inc  NFLX.O  tumbled 10.3% after the company's
quarterly results, which missed targets for new subscribers
overseas.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N24I3TB
    Losses in Netflix triggered a 0.9% fall in the communication
services sector  .SPLRCL , which has been one of the
best-performing S&P sectors so far this year.
    "I think there was this assumption that no matter what
happened globally that people would sit at home and watch
television and tune in to Netflix," said Jack Ablin, founding
partner and chief investment officer at Cresset Asset Management
in Chicago. "I think that investors have viewed these large-cap
growth technology companies as somewhat defensive."
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  rose 3.12 points, or
0.01%, to 27,222.97, the S&P 500  .SPX  gained 10.69 points, or
0.36%, to 2,995.11 and the Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  added 22.04
points, or 0.27%, to 8,207.24.
    Among positive earnings reports, shares of Philip Morris
International Inc  PM.N  climbed 8.2% after the tobacco company
raised its full-year profit outlook. Railroad operator Union
Pacific Corp  UNP.N  jumped 5.9% after the company's profit came
in ahead of expectations.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N24J3MV urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N24J31S
    International Business Machines Corp  IBM.N  rose 4.6% as
the company's quarterly profit beat on strong growth in its
high-margin cloud business.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N24I3UE
    Morgan Stanley  MS.N  shares rose 1.5% after the bank posted
a better-than-expected quarterly profit. The S&P 500 banks index
 .SPXBK  was up 0.9% after three days of losses.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N24J2XQ
    "I suppose the good news is expectations were pretty low
coming into this season's earnings," Ablin said. "Analysts had
expected a negative decline in profit year over year and so
right now it looks like the earnings results themselves are
better than expected."
    UnitedHealth Group Inc  UNH.N  shares slipped 2.3% as the
insurer said on its conference call that 2019 revenue would not
hit its original target.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N24J3CC
    Profits for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 0.6% for
the second quarter of 2019, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
Until Wednesday, there were expectations of a dip in earnings.
    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
1.22-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.23-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
    The S&P 500 posted 36 new 52-week highs and four new lows;
the Nasdaq Composite recorded 61 new highs and 101 new lows.  
    Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.68 billion shares, compared
with the 6.67 billion average for the full session over the last
20 trading days.    

 (Reporting by Evan Sully; Additional reporting by April Joyner
in New York and Medha Singh and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru;
Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Anil D'Silva, Jonathan Oatis and
Dan Grebler)
 ((Evan.Sully@thomsonreuters.com;))

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