Stocks end higher, bringing S&P 500 to the cusp of a record

Stocks ended higher on Wall Street Wednesday, bringing the S&P 500 to the brink of another record high. The benchmark index climbed 0.4% for its sixth gain in a row. Anthem and Abbott Laboratories helped lead gains among health care stocks after turning in solid quarterly earnings reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4% and the Nasdaq fell less than 0.1%. Netflix fell after forecasting earnings for its current quarter that were below analysts’ estimates. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.65%. The price of Bitcoin rose above $66,000 for the first time.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Solid earnings from health care companies helped power broad gains for stocks on Wall Street Wednesday and pushed the benchmark S&P 500 within range of an all-time high.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4% as of 3:13 p.m. Eastern. The benchmark index has made gains over the last five days and is hovering around its all-time high set on Sept. 2.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 164 points, or 0.5%, to 35,622 and the Nasdaq fell less than 0.1%.

“The reason we’re seeing this rally over the last week is that company earnings are looking really good,” said Sylvia Jablonski, chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs. “Most companies are managing inflationary pressures and pricing issues and that’s helping to alleviate concerns about overvaluation and inflation.”

Wall Street cheered solid earnings from a variety of health care companies. Abbott Laboratories, which makes infant formula, medical devices and drugs, rose 3.6% after handily beating analysts’ third-quarter profit forecasts. Health insurer Anthem rose 7.2% after also reporting strong financial results.

Technology stocks lagged the broader market. Bond yields were relatively stable. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.64% from 1.63% late Tuesday.

Netflix fell 1.9% after forecasting earnings for its current quarter that were below analysts’ estimates.

PayPal fell 4.9% following reports that it is considering buying digital pinboard and shopping tool Pinterest, which jumped 13.9%.

The price of Bitcoin rose 3.5% to over $66,667. It reached an all-time high earlier in the day. The gains came a day after the first exchange-traded fund linked to Bitcoin futures attracted huge interest from investors looking to get into the surging field of cryptocurrencies.

Investors are busy reviewing the latest report cards from companies as they try to get a clearer view of the economic path forward amid rising inflation and a lingering threat from COVID-19.

A key concern remains supply chain disruptions and rising materials costs cutting into profits for many companies. Higher costs for companies could mean higher prices for consumers, which could threaten spending that is supporting the economic recovery.

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes fell 5.2% after reporting weak third-quarter financial results, partly because of supply chain problems and higher costs. Brinker International, which operates Chili’s Grill & Bar, fell 9.1% after its fiscal first-quarter profit fell far short of analysts’ forecasts as it faces higher commodity and labor costs.

Investors seem to be taking the impact from rising inflation on companies in stride, said Greg Bassuk, CEO at AXS Investments.

“Without big surprises on the downside, or something really outsized, the bulls are overtaking the bears,” he said.

Rising inflation has also put a sharper focus on the Federal Reserve and its plans to start trimming bond purchases that have helped keep interest rates low. The central bank maintained through most of the year that inflation would likely be temporary and tied to the economic recovery, but it has grown more concerned about rising inflation persisting.

There are still several large companies on deck to report earnings this week. Railroad operator CSX and electric vehicle maker Tesla will report financial results after the market closes Wednesday. American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Union Pacific. will report results on Thursday.