The S&P 500 registered a small gain while the Dow declined on Wednesday with weakness in sectors such as consumer staples and financials offsetting largely upbeat corporate earnings reports and a surge in petroleum-linked equities.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 39 points, or 0.16%, to 24,748, the S&P 500 gained two points, or 0.08%, to 2,709 and the Nasdaq Composite added 14 points, or 0.19%, to 7,295.
Trading was choppy, with the Dow swinging between positive and negative territory while the S&P 500 gave up most of its gains in the last few minutes of trading.
The Federal Reserve's "beige book" survey released Wednesday reported "modest to moderate" economic growth in the 12 Federal Reserve districts over the past six weeks and a generally upbeat outlook.
Higher oil prices boosted energy shares while transport stocks such as CSX Corp helped the industrial sector. But IBM’s 7.5% decline was the biggest drag on the S&P after the technology company’s quarterly profit margins missed Wall Street targets.
No. 3 US railroad operator CSX jumped 7.8% after topping profit estimates. Also United Continental gained 4.8% and lifted other airline stocks after reporting a better-than-expected quarterly profit.
Southwest Airlines added 2.8% as investigators probed an emergency landing on a flight Tuesday that led to a fatality.
Oil futures CLc1 rose 2.9% due to a decline in US crude inventories and after sources signalled top exporter Saudi Arabia wants to see crude prices closer to $100 a barrel. The S&P energy sector was up 1.6%.
Dow-member Chevron gained 2.0%, Halliburton 2.4% and Apache 3.6%. Best Buy jumped 3.7% as it unveiled a venture to sell new Amazon "smart" TVs in its stores. Amazon gained 1.6%.
Lam Research fell 4% on analyst concerns about a slowdown in demand for its chip equipment.
In Asia, shares gained modestly on Thursday in morning session after US stocks notched gains in the last session amid improved investor sentiment.
The Nikkei 225 added 0.49% in early trade. Over in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 edged higher by 0.6%. In Seoul, the Kospi hovered just around the flat line.
In Greater China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.74%, while on the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.80%.