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* JPMorgan touches three-week high after profit beat
* UnitedHealth eyes best day in three years
* JNJ set for biggest one-day percentage gain since Jan
* Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs drop on earnings miss
* Indexes up: Dow 0.49%, S&P 0.47%, Nasdaq 0.46% (Updates to open)
Oct 15 (Reuters) - Wall Street was off to a strong start on Tuesday as upbeat earnings reports from JPMorgan Chase, UnitedHealth and Johnson & Johnson allayed concerns about the fallout from a prolonged U.S.-China trade war on corporate America.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co gained 1.7% to a three-week high after the company beat Wall Street estimates for third-quarter profit by a wide margin.
UnitedHealth Group Inc was set to post its best day in three years, while Johnson & Johnson shares eyed their biggest one-day percentage gain since January after both companies raised their profit forecasts.
The stocks were among the stocks boosting the S&P 500 and Dow Jones indexes, and lifted the S&P healthcare sector to a three-week high. All 11 major S&P sectors rose in early trading.
“A good earnings season with solid reporting and signs from companies saying the future is okay would assuage fears regarding an economic slowdown and recession,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
Analysts are forecasting the worst quarterly profit performance in about three years for S&P 500 companies, with industrials among those most at risk from the trade dispute.
Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs dropped 0.7% and 3.3%, respectively, after reporting weaker-than-expected quarterly profit.
Collectively, banks were expected to report a 1.2% decline in earnings, their first year-on-year drop in three, due in part to low interest rates and trade tensions.
Wall Street has been rattled over the past 15 months by tit-for-tat tariffs by the United States and China, with the impact already reflecting in the domestic economy.
The International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday that global growth in 2019 will log its slowest pace since the 2008-2009 financial crisis as a result of the trade war.
After a more than 11% increase in the first quarter, gains in the three main U.S. stock indexes tapered off in the second and third. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones kicked off the fourth quarter with a 0.4% drop so far in October.
At 9:57 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 131.51 points, or 0.49%, at 26,918.87, while the S&P 500 was up 13.80 points, or 0.47%, at 2,979.95. The Nasdaq Composite was up 36.87 points, or 0.46%, at 8,085.52.
Shares of mobile game developer Glu Mobile jumped 9.7% as it is set to replace SolarEdge Technologies in the S&P SmallCap 600.
BlackRock Inc, the world’s biggest asset manager, rose 1% after its quarterly profit beat estimates.
Housing stocks including D.R. Horton Inc, Toll Brothers Inc, Lennar Corp and PulteGroup Inc rose nearly 1% after RBC Capital Markets raised its price targets on several companies in the sector.
Bank of America and Morgan Stanley are due to report later this week, along with Netflix Inc, Abbott Laboratories and Union Pacific.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.77-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.80-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded three new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 12 new highs and 32 new lows.
Additional reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila
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