US stocks : Dow up 0.04 pct
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US stocks closing: The S&P 500 rose for the third consecutive day on Wednesday after housing starts hit a four-year high, but the Dow was weighed down by IBM after it posted weak revenue.
Homebuilders' shares led gains after the Commerce Department said groundbreaking on new homes jumped 15 percent in September, the quickest pace since July 2008. The surge in housing starts was viewed as evidence that the housing sector's fledgling recovery is bolstering the recovery of the broader economy.
The PHLX Housing Index rose 2.9 percent.
International Business Machines Corp was a notable disappointment after the company said revenue fell short of expectations. The stock dropped 4.9 percent, exerting an 81-point drag on the Dow industrials. IBM has an outsized influence on the Dow, which is a price-weighted index. IBM's stock closed at $200.63.
Intel Corp, the world's largest chipmaker, lost 2.5 percent to end at $21.79 a day after giving a weak revenue outlook. The S&P technology sector index slid 0.8 percent and ranked as the only loser among the S&P 500's 10 industry sectors on Wednesday.
Although it's still early in the earnings season, the results have been a bit better than anticipated. Fourteen percent of S&P 500 companies have already reported earnings, and of those companies, 65 percent have beaten analysts' expectations, ahead of the long-term average of 62 percent.
The results are just not that bad at all. And whenever people begin to get too far in one direction - meaning earnings are going to be terrible - generally reality is better than that, and we are seeing that now, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
According to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday afternoon, quarterly earnings for S&P 500 components are now expected to fall 1.7 percent from a year ago, a modest improvement in expectations from a forecast for a drop of 2.3 percent earlier in the week.
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