Tesla, PayPal lift S&P 500 and Nasdaq ahead of Big Tech earnings

(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes edged higher in choppy trade on Monday, led by gains in Tesla and PayPal shares, while investors geared up for earnings reports from heavyweight technology companies this week that could provide direction to the markets.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., October 6, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Tesla Inc rose 4.5% to a record high after car rental firm Hertz placed an order for 100,000 Tesla cars, while Morgan Stanley boosted its price target on the electric-car maker’s stock.

Its shares provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, followed by PayPal Inc, which added 4.9% after the payments company scrapped its plans to buy the digital pinboard site Pinterest Inc for as much as $45 billion. Shares of Pinterest plunged 13.6%.

Five of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced in early trading. Energy shares outperformed with a 1.9% gain.

Facebook Inc, which will kick off quarterly results for mega-cap technology giants after markets close on Monday, fell 0.3%. Investors fear its ad revenue could face the brunt of Apple’s iPhone privacy changes that have also hit Snap Inc’s third-quarter revenue.

“After Snap got an Apple caught in its throat, markets will have an itchy trigger finger over the sell button if the social network says the same,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

Coupled with Facebook, shares of Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet and Amazon.com Inc which collectively account for over 22% of the weighting in the S&P 500 also slipped, capping gains on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

Strong earnings updates from some companies lifted the benchmark index to an intra-day record high on Friday, driving a 5.6% gain so far in October after a stumble in September.

Analysts expect S&P 500 earnings to grow 34.8% year-on-year for the third quarter, according to data from Refinitiv.

“We are seeing strong confidence with upward revisions to quarterly earnings estimates,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist, CFRA Research.

“The market has regained its old highs and old highs are like rusty doors that require several attempts to swing it open, so it is going to take more sideways trading days before markets take off again.”

Investors are also assessing how companies are mitigating supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages and inflationary pressures to sustain growth.

Shares of Kimberley-Clark dropped 3.3% after the Huggies diapers maker cut its 2021 profit outlook due to higher input cost inflation.

At 10:09 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 29.88 points, or 0.08%, at 35,706.90, the S&P 500 was up 5.33 points, or 0.12%, at 4,550.23, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 45.24 points, or 0.30%, at 15,135.44.

On the economic data front, readings on U.S. third-quarter GDP – the Federal Reserve’s favored inflation gauge, the core PCE price index and consumer confidence data will be released later this week.

Carnival Corp slipped 1.3% after Citigroup downgraded the cruise operator’s stock to “neutral” from “buy”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.56-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.40-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 50 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 95 new highs and 45 new lows.

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