* Microsoft rises after solid growth in cloud business
* Technology biggest boost to S&P
* Kansas City Southern gains on profit beat
* American Express falls as expenses rise
* Indexes up: Dow 0.28%, S&P 0.27%, Nasdaq 0.37% (Updates to open)
By Medha Singh
July 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes advanced on Friday as solid results from Microsoft lifted technology stocks and added to an upbeat mood following signs from New York Fed President John Williams that the central bank would lower interest rates this month.
Microsoft Corp, America’s most valuable company, gained 2.2% as strength in its cloud business helped it beat analysts’ estimates at the end of a week of mixed corporate results.
The S&P technology sector gained 0.60%, providing the biggest boost to the benchmark S&P 500 index.
“Some optimism is being carried forward from New York Fed President John Williams’ comments and largely better-than-expected corporate earnings so far, highlighted by Microsoft,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.
Second-quarter profits at S&P 500 companies are now estimated to rise 1%, according to Refinitiv IBES data, in a reversal from earlier expectations of a small drop.
Williams’ remarks that the Fed cannot wait for economic disaster to unfold and must add stimulus early were behind Thursday’s positive close.
Traders raised bets for a larger, half-percentage point cut in rates at the July 30-31 policy meeting to 41%, from a 23% chance a week ago, according to CME Group’s FedWatch program.
Boeing Co also provided support to the Dow Industrials and S&P 500 index.
The planemaker disclosed it would take a $4.9 billion after-tax hit due to estimated disruptions from the grounding of its 737 MAX, but shares gained 2.1% indicating that investors had feared worst.
At 9:45 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 75.33 points, or 0.28%, at 27,298.30, and the S&P 500 was up 8.01 points, or 0.27%, at 3,003.12. The Nasdaq Composite was up 30.50 points, or 0.37%, at 8,237.74.
The main indexes have eased off all-time highs hit at the start of this week as some of the first batches of second-quarter earnings releases pointed to a slowdown in growth under the shadow of U.S.-China trade tensions.
Kansas City Southern shares rose 3.4% after the railroad operator posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Its shares helped the Dow transports index rise about 1%.
Credit card issuer American Express Co’s beat profit estimates but shares slipped about 2.4% as expenses jumped.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.43-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.26-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 34 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 37 new highs and 25 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham and Sriraj Kalluvila)