* Philip Morris, Verizon fall after quarterly results
* Investors eye first round of French election this Sunday
* Indexes up: Dow 0.35 pct, S&P 0.26 pct, Nasdaq 0.34 pct
(Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
April 20 Wall Street was higher in late morning
trading on Thursday, boosted largely by gains in financial and
A 3.9 percent rise in shares of American Express
kept the Dow Jones Industrial Average on track to break a
two-day losing streak, although losses in Travelers and
Verizon limited the gains.
AmEx reported a smaller-than-expected drop in quarterly
profit on Wednesday, indicating the credit card company was
recovering from the loss of key partnerships last year.
"As we see a steady stream of earnings, on balance the
season has been better and that's helping the market today,"
said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities
in New York.
With Wall Street near record levels and worries over
President Donald Trump's ability to deliver on his pro-growth
promises, investors are hoping first-quarter earnings will be
strong enough to justify lofty market valuations.
Of the 57 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported
earnings through Wednesday morning, about 75 percent have topped
expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the 71
percent average for the past four quarters.
Overall, profits of S&P 500 companies are estimated to have
risen 10.8 percent in the quarter, the best since 2011.
"Investors are definitely nervous about the upcoming French
elections, the situation in North Korea and Syria. Friday should
be a risk-off trading day ahead of the election."
Mounting tensions between North Korea and the United States
and the looming French presidential elections are keeping
investors away from making risky bets.
A closely watched poll showed Centrist Emmanuel Macron hung
on to his lead as favorite to win France's presidential election
in a four-way race that is too close to call.
Oil prices remained volatile with Brent crude up 0.3
percent at $53.10, after being lower earlier in the session.
At 10:39 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was
up 70.46 points, or 0.35 percent, at 20,474.95, the S&P 500
was up 6.08 points, or 0.26 percent, at 2,344.25.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 19.68 points, or 0.34
percent, at 5,882.71.
Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the
financial index's 0.77 percent rise leading the gainers.
CSX Corp jumped 7 percent to $50.16 after the No. 3
U.S. railroad operator's quarterly profit beat estimates. The
stock was among the biggest boosts to the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Shares of Philip Morris fell 3.6 percent to $109.82
after the tobacco maker's first-quarter profit forecast came in
Key companies scheduled to report results on Thursday
include Dow component Visa and toymaker Mattel.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,685
to 1,018. On the Nasdaq, 1,659 issues rose and 908 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 25 new 52-week highs and one new
low, while the Nasdaq recorded 75 new highs and 20 new lows.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Anil D'Silva)