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* Verizon rises on adding more postpaid subscribers
* Baker Hughes falls as profit misses estimates
* Anthem, Biogen gain on raising FY profit forecasts
* Indexes up: Dow 0.46%, S&P 0.42%, Nasdaq 0.17%
Oct 20 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Dow inched closer to
record highs on Wednesday after strong forecasts from healthcare
companies Anthem and Abbott, while the Nasdaq lagged as
technology stocks took a breather.
The Dow Jones Industrials Average was just short of
all-time highs reached in mid-August, while the benchmark S&P
500 index traded 0.2% below its early September record.
Ten of the 11 major S&P 500 sector indexes were trading
higher, led by healthcare stocks, while technology
shares were down 0.1%.
Financials gained 0.5% to hit a record high. The S&P
500 Value index, which houses economy-sensitive stocks
like energy and industrials, also scaled new peaks.
Abbott Laboratories rose 2.9% after raising its
full-year profit forecast on a rebound in COVID-19 test sales.
Anthem Inc jumped 7.2% and Biogen Inc
added 0.3% after both healthcare companies raised their
full-year earnings forecasts.
Analysts expect S&P 500 earnings to rise 33% from a year
earlier, according to Refinitiv data, as they kept a close eye
on growth outlook from companies faced with rising costs, labor
shortages and supply chain disruptions.
"Earnings is boosting sentiment and we'll know more in two
weeks... we're going to hear more about supply chain issues,
wage growth and costs, etc. So far we haven't heard too much of
that yet," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview
Investment Management in Chicago.
Netflix's global sensation "Squid Game" helped lure
more customers than expected, the world's largest streaming
service said as it predicted a packed lineup would further boost
signups through the end of the year.
Its shares, however, fell 0.8% after hitting a record high
earlier this month and gaining 18.2% so far this year.
Facebook Inc added 0.6% after it said it is planning
to rebrand itself with new name that focuses on metaverse,
according to the Verge.
Tesla Inc edged 0.3% higher ahead of its quarterly
results, with investors keeping a tab on costs and margins amid
chip shortages and supply chain issues.
"People are waiting to see what the large tech companies are
going to report. That is probably the real reason we're seeing
individual stocks responding more than the broader market," said
Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital
Securities in New York.
The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall
Street's fear gauge, fell to its lowest level since Aug. 13.
At 12:02 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
was up 163.79 points, or 0.46%, at 35,621.10, the S&P 500
was up 18.89 points, or 0.42%, at 4,538.52 and the Nasdaq
Composite was up 26.24 points, or 0.17%, at 15,155.33.
Verizon Communications Inc gained 2.6% as it added
more postpaid phone subscribers than expected in the third
quarter, while Baker Hughes Co slipped 6.7% on downbeat
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.66-to-1 ratio
on the NYSE and by a 1.52-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 55 new 52-week highs and no new low,
while the Nasdaq recorded 77 new highs and 25 new lows.
(Reporting by Devik Jain and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru;
Editing by Arun Koyyur)