* Apple rallies after results, boosting tech names
* Boeing falls despite higher profit, weighing on Dow
* Biotechs rally for fourth straight session
* Dow down 0.2 pct; S&P 500 up 0.2 pct; Nasdaq up 0.4 pct
(Updates to close)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, July 23 U.S. stocks ended mostly
higher on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 closing at a record on
Apple's bullish results, though Boeing weighed on the Dow and
conflicts in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip kept the broader
market's gains in check.
Biotech stocks ranked among the day's biggest gainers,
boosted by some strong results and drug trial data. The Nasdaq
Biotech index jumped 2.2 percent in its fourth straight
day of gains.
Apple Inc gave one of the biggest lifts to the
market, rising 2.6 percent to $97.19 as concerns faded about the
iPhone maker's margins. Dow component Microsoft Corp
rose 0.1 percent to $44.87 after the company said it aimed to
get its money-losing Nokia phone unit to break even within two
"Earnings season has been going very well, beating on both
the top and bottom line, which suggests companies will continue
to execute well," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist
at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta.
Among the companies that reported results after the market
closed, Facebook Inc posted stronger-than-expected
revenue growth and its stock climbed 3.5 percent to $73.80 in
extended-hours trading. TripAdvisor Inc shares tumbled
9.4 percent to $97.25 in after-hours trading after the travel
website company reported earnings that missed expectations.
The shares of Dow component AT&T Inc shares slipped
1.4 percent to $35.38 in extended-hours trading after the No. 2
U.S. mobile provider reported revenue that missed analysts'
About 68.5 percent of the S&P 500 components have reported
earnings above expectations, topping the long-term average of 63
percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. On the revenue side,
63.1 percent have beaten forecasts, above the historical average
of 61 percent.
Overseas issues continued to limit the market's gains. Two
Ukrainian fighter jets were downed near the area where a
Malaysian Airlines passenger jet was shot down last week, a
spokesman for Ukraine's military operations said Wednesday.
Violence also continued in the Gaza Strip, though U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry said indirect truce talks between
Israel and Hamas had made some progress.
"There's a battle going on in the market between earnings
and geopolitical issues, and right now, it looks like earnings
have a slight edge," said Gayle, who helps oversee $50 billion
in assets. "These are big areas of concern, but they've yet to
translate to anything tangible from an economic standpoint."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 26.91 points or
0.16 percent, to end at 17,086.63. The S&P 500 gained
3.48 points or 0.18 percent, to close at 1,987.01, surpassing
the record set on July 3. The Nasdaq Composite added
17.68 points or 0.4 percent, to 4,473.70.
While the S&P 500 ended at a record close, the Dow was kept
under pressure by Boeing Co, which fell 2.3 percent to
$126.71. The U.S. aircraft maker reported a 52 percent jump in
quarterly profit, but investors were spooked by rising costs in
its military tanker program.
PepsiCo rose 1.9 percent to $90.82 after the soft
drinks and snacks company reported a higher-than-expected
quarterly profit and raised its full-year adjusted earnings
In the biotech space, Biogen Idec reported sharply
higher-than-expected quarterly revenue on surging sales of its
new treatment for multiple sclerosis and raised its full-year
profit forecast. Its stock shot up 11.2 percent to $337.60.
Intuitive Surgical rose 17.7 percent to $461.63 and
was the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer a day after the
company, which makes the da Vinci robot surgical system,
reported second-quarter revenue that beat expectations.
Puma Biotechnology nearly quadrupled, up 295.4
percent to $233.43 on heavy volume a day after the company said
its experimental breast cancer drug met its main goal in a
About 55 percent of stocks traded on the New York Stock
Exchange closed higher while 47 percent of Nasdaq-listed shares
ended in positive territory.
About 5.33 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms,
according to BATS exchange data, compared with the month-to-date
average of 5.55 billion.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)