Stock market struggles to hold gains as earnings continue to roll in

U.S. stocks struggled to maintain gains Wednesday, with the Dow trading near unchanged after an earnings-driven rally that has taken it back into positive territory for the year.

Investors are getting a fresh round of corporate results for this session, as well as Federal Reserve speeches and the central banks Beige Book report.

What are the main benchmarks doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, +0.03%
was down 28 points, or 0.1%, at 24,759, with heavy losses for IBM weighing on the index.

Meanwhile, the Dow Transportation Average
DJT, +2.21%
rallied 1.4% to 10,739, which some analysts see as a bullish sign for the overall market.

Read: Dow transports index surges to a higher high, a week after a Dow Theory sell signal was triggered

The S&P 500
SPX, +0.33%
inched 7 points, or 0.3%, higher to 2,713, with seven of its 11 main sectors trading higher. Energy shares led the gains, up nearly 2%, while industrials and materials were up about 1%. Consumer staples shares led the decliners, down 0.8%.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite
COMP, +0.42%
was up 29 points, or 0.4%, at 7,310.

Whats driving markets?

First-quarter earnings reports have grabbed investors attention this week, with Netflix Inc.
NFLX, -0.61%
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
GS, +0.11%
and UnitedHealth Group Inc.
UNH, -0.38%
among the companies that have posted encouraging results.

The S&P 500 components are expected to see earnings growth of 17.3% for the period, the fastest rate of expansion since 2011.

What are strategists saying?

What we are seeing today is a rotation out of technology stocks and into commodity-heavy sectors. It seems that positioning leading up to the earnings season more than anything else is driving current market action, said Ian Winer, head of the equities division at Wedbush Securities.

For example, earnings in some sectors are leading to big rallies, such as in transports, but solid financials were sold right after solid earnings. We are watching this reaction with interest, Winer said.

Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets U.K., in a note to investors said that fears around a potential trade war and geopolitical concerns have faded very much. He was referring to the worries in recent weeks about the trade skirmish between the U.S. and China, as well as jitters about the conflict in Syria.

North Korea also has been a concern this year, and the isolated nation is in the news again Wednesday, thanks to reports that Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo took a secret trip to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang over Easter. Pompeo went to discuss the terms of Kims upcoming summit with President Donald Trump.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares in air carrierUnited Continental Holdings Inc.
UAL, +6.82%
and railroad operatorCSX Corp.
CSX, +6.77%
each rose more than 6%, after the companies each posted better-than-expected quarterly profit late Wednesday.

International Business Machines Corp.s stock
IBM, -7.55%
fell 7.8% as analysts noted its earnings beat late Tuesday was driven by a one-time tax gain. In addition, IBM Chief Financial Officer James Kavanaugh told analysts on the tech titans conference call that they should not count on a continued boost from new mainframe sales.

Shares in banking giant Morgan Stanley
MS, +1.11%
was marginally higher after its quarterly profit topped estimates. Morgan Stanley joins other large banks whose stock prices fell even as earnings beat consensus forecasts.

Health-care heavyweight Abbott Laboratories
ABT, -0.92%
shares dropped 1.3% although the health care company reported first-quarter profit and sales that rose above expectations.

Southwest Airlines Co.s stock
LUV, +3.63%
rose 3.8%, as investors shook off the incident in which its first passenger death in its 50-year history following a blown engine. The airline says it has started an investigation into the accident.

VMware Inc.
VMW, +4.31%
climbed 4.3% following reports that storied activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a medium-size stake in the software company.

Shares of Textron Inc.
TXT, +6.77%
soared 6.5% after the industrial manufacturing company said it agreed to sell its tools and test business to Emerson Electric Co.
EMR, +2.45%
for $810 million in cash, and reported a first-quarter profit and sales beat estimates.

Which economic reports are on tap?

The Feds Beige Book is scheduled to hit at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. It will give anecdotal evidence on economic conditions from each of the central banks 12 districts.

Check out: MarketWatchs Economic Calendar

New York Fed President William Dudley is due to give a speech on the economic outlook at a college in New York City at 3:15 p.m. Eastern. After that, the Feds vice chair for bank supervision, Randal Quarles, is slated to make remarks at the Bretton Woods Committee in Washington, D.C., at 4:15 p.m. Eastern.

What are other markets doing?

European stocks
SXXP, +0.29%
were mostly higher, and Asian markets closed with gains.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
DXY, +0.12%
was flat. Gold futures
GCM8, +0.32%
rose, and oil futures
CLK8, +2.50%
jumped to nearly 3 1/2-year highs after government data showed an unexpected decline in weekly U.S. crude supplies.

Related Topics U.S. Stocks Markets NY Stock Exchange NASDAQ

Quote References DJIA +8.45 +0.03% DJT +234.00 +2.21% SPX +8.85 +0.33% COMP +30.43 +0.42% NFLX -2.06 -0.61% GS +0.28 +0.11% UNH -0.91 -0.38% UAL +4.59 +6.82% CSX +3.83 +6.77% IBM -12.15 -7.55% MS +0.59 +1.11% ABT -0.55 -0.92% LUV +1.97 +3.63% VMW +5.69 +4.31% TXT +4.06 +6.77% EMR +1.70 +2.45% SXXP +1.09 +0.29% DXY +0.11 +0.12% GCM8 +4.30 +0.32% CLK8 +1.66 +2.50% Show all references
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Dow Jones Industrial Average DJ-Index: DJIA 24,795.08 +8.45 (+0.03%)

Volume 185.9M
Open 24,821
High 24,833
Low 24,721
P/E Ratio 0
Div Yield 0
Market Cap N/A

Dow Jones Transportation Average DJ-Index: DJT 10,826.56 +234.00 (+2.21%)

Volume 51.8M
Open 10,659
High 10,839
Low 10,651
P/E Ratio 0
Div Yield 0
Market Cap N/A

S&P 500 Index S&P Base CME: SPX 2,715.24 +8.85 (+0.33%)

Volume 1.2B
Open 2,710
High 2,717
Low 2,704
P/E Ratio 0
Div Yield 0
Market Cap N/A

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