Stocks pressured as earnings reports offer conflicting narratives

U.S. stocks whipsawed between gains and losses in Wednesday morning as investors continued to process new earnings releases, while offering a muted reaction to data that showed China’s economic growth stabilized.

What are major indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.11%   fell 11 points, or less than 0.1%, to 26,442, while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.20% rose less than a point to 2,907. The Nasdaq Composite index COMP, -0.09% was up 15 points at 8,015, an advance of 0.2%.

See: U.S. stock-market euphoria may be nearing a dangerous level, says RBC strategist

The S&P 500 on Tuesday ended just 0.8% away from its all-time closing high of 2,930.75 set on Sept. 20, while the Dow and Nasdaq each stand around 1.4% away from their record closes set last year.

What’s driving the market?

Investors continue to wade through corporate results as the earnings season moves into full swing, with an earnings miss from International Business Machines Inc. IBM, -2.98% caused the stock to fall 2.3%, weighing heavily on the Dow.

Health care stocks were also burdening the market, led by insurers Athem Inc. ANTM, -5.27% Cigna Corp. CI, -4.58%   and Dow component UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH, -3.84% which was down 2.8% on the day after falling 4% Tuesday. Analysts pointed to the ongoing debate over health care reform, which has taken center stage in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, and which could significantly affect profits in the managed care and health services sectors if reform legislation is ultimately passed.

Chinese government data showed the country’s economy grew at a 6.4% rate, year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019, maintaining the pace seen in the last quarter of 2018 as factory output picked up steam. The figure was slightly higher than many economists expected.

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