NEW YORK â€“ Another dose of strong corporate earnings, this time from Ford, Southwest Airlines and others, helped push the stock market higher on Thursday.
Itâ€™s one of the busiest weeks on Wall Street for corporate earnings. Roughly a third of the S&P 500 will report results, including some of the worldâ€™s best-known companies.
For investors, this week has also been a welcome return to business as usual. Wall Street has been focused for weeks on whatâ€™s going on in Washington, with the government shutdown, the near-breach of the nationâ€™s borrowing limit and questions about whatâ€™s next for the Federal Reserveâ€™s massive bond-buying program.
So far, corporate earnings have come in pretty much as most money managers expected. Companies are reporting bigger profits, but most of the growth has come from cost-cutting, a trend that hasnâ€™t changed very much since the financial crisis.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 95.88 points, or 0.6 percent, to 15,509.21. The Standard & Poorâ€™s 500 index added 5.69 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,752.07, about two points below the record high of 1,754.67 it reached on Tuesday. The Nasdaq composite was up 21.89 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,928.96.
Among companies reporting earnings, Ford earned an adjusted profit of 45 cents per share â€“ a record for the third quarter â€“ as sales rose 12 percent to $36 billion. The automaker sold 1.5 million cars and trucks in the period, up 16 percent. Wall Street analysts had expected Ford to earn 37 cents per share, according to FactSet. Ford rose 24 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $17.76.
Southwest Airlines, the nationâ€™s largest domestic air carrier, reported sharply higher earnings. Southwest said it had an adjusted profit of 34 cents per share, up from 13 cents a year ago. Southwest rose 61 cents, or 4 percent, to $17.02.
AT&T fell 65 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $34.63. The telecommunications company said late Wednesday it had an adjusted profit of 66 cents in the third quarter, a penny above analystsâ€™ forecasts, however revenue fell slightly short of what analysts expected.
Two technology giants, Microsoft and Amazon, reported results after the stock market closed Thursday. Both beat analystsâ€™ expectations. Amazon rose 5 percent and Microsoft jumped 6.5 percent in after-market trading.
Wall Street also had some positive news out of China. A Chinese manufacturing index rose to a seven-month high in October, suggesting continued momentum for the rebound in the worldâ€™s second-biggest economy.
In other corporate news:
â€˘ Visa rose $4.02, or 2 percent, to $202.91. The payment processing company raised its quarterly dividend by 21 percent to 40 cents per share.
â€˘ Xerox plunged $1.12, or 10 percent, to $9.61 after the company cut its full-year outlook and missed analystsâ€™ estimates.