Wall St. climbs on Procter & Gamble, Microsoft


A woman carries an umbrella as she passes by the New York Stock Exchange on Broad St. in New York's financial district during the morning rush

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A woman carries an umbrella as she passes by the New York Stock Exchange on Broad St. in New York’s financial district during the morning rush October 23, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks advanced on Friday, buoyed by gains in Microsoft and Procter & Gamble after their quarterly results and as steps towards expediting the development of vaccines for Ebola eased concerns over its possible spread in the United States.

Microsoft (MSFT.O) was up 1.6 percent at $45.75, after it reported higher-than-expected quarterly revenue while keeping its profit margins largely intact.

Fellow Dow component Procter & Gamble (PG.N) gained 2.7 percent to $85.44 and was also one of the biggest boosts to the S&P 500, after the world’s largest household products maker posted quarterly results and said it would split its Duracell battery business into a separate company.

But Amazon (AMZN.O) plunged 7.5 percent to $289.62 as the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 (.NDX) after the online retailer’s sales projections for the crucial holiday quarter disappointed Wall Street and third-quarter results missed forecasts.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Friday morning, of 205 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 69.8 percent have topped analyst’s expectations, above the 63 percent rate since 1994 and the 67 percent rate for the past four quarters. On the revenue side, 59.8 percent have beaten expectations, slightly below the 61 percent rate since 2002 but above the 58 percent rate for the past four quarters.

The S&P 500 (.SPX) is up 3.7 percent for the week, putting the index on pace for its first weekly gain in five and best week since the start of 2013, powered largely by solid corporate earnings reports. The benchmark index is down 2.7 percent from its record high set on Sept. 18 after slumping more than 7 percent as volatility has spiked.

Investors continued to monitor developments on the Ebola virus. A doctor who worked in West Africa with Ebola patients was in an isolation unit in New York City after testing positive for the virus while the World Health Organization set out plans for speeding up development and deployment of experimental Ebola vaccines.

“The management of the Ebola virus has given the market some confidence that they can move forward and focus on what pricing is really predicated upon – earnings and data – and in both cases they have been very constructive,” said Peter Kenny, chief market strategist at Clearpool Group in New York.

At 11:22 a.m., the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) rose 60.85 points, or 0.36 percent, to 16,738.75, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 6.73 points, or 0.34 percent, to 1,957.55 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 14.12 points, or 0.32 percent, to 4,466.91.

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose to a six-year high in September, up 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 467,000 units.

The largest percentage gainer on the S&P 500 was Edwards Lifesciences (EW.N), which rose 11.8 percent, while the largest decliner was Amazon.

On the Nasdaq 100 the largest gainer was KLA-Tencor (KLAC.OQ), which rose 6.7 percent, while the largest decliner was Amazon.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,510 to 1,396, for a 1.08-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,253 issues fell and 1,247 advanced for a 1.00-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 23 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 35 new highs and 25 new lows.

(Editing by James Dalgleish and Bernadette Baum)