Stock market today: Wall Street remains quiet, P&G gains

Stocks barely moved in morning trading on Wall Street Friday as investors close out a quiet week of mostly mixed corporate earnings reports.

The S&P 500 was mostly unchanged as of 10:20 a.m. Eastern. The benchmark index has been wavering over the last several days and is on track for a slight weekly loss.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 51 points, or 0.2%, to 33,840.13 and the Nasdaq fell 0.2%.

Banks and technology companies were mostly lower and weighed on the broader market. Health care companies and a range of consumer product makers gained ground and tempered losses elsewhere.

The latest corporate earnings and forecasts have been the big focus for investors this week, as they try to get a better sense of how companies are handling high inflation, a slowing economy and fears about a recession. The market has a handful of earnings reports to assess Friday.

Hospital operator HCA Healthcare rose 5.3% after the company topped estimates for the first quarter and raised its full-year profit forecast. Procter & Gamble, the maker of Charmin toilet paper and other iconic consumer products, rose 4% after beating estimates thanks to price increases.

Information technology services company PC Connection slumped 10% after giving investors a disappointing financial update. Regional bank Regions Financial fell 3.4% after reporting discouraging earnings.

Companies have so far been beating Wall Street forecasts this earnings period. Analysts had forecast this would mark the sharpest drop in S&P 500 earnings per share since the pandemic stunned the economy in 2020. Analysts polled by FactSet expect profits to contract by 6.3% for companies in the S&P 500.

The latest earnings come as investors worry about the potential for a recession amid the Federal Reserve’s fight against inflation. The central bank aggressively raised interest rates through 2022 and into 2023. The rate hikes have weighed on economic growth and while inflation has eased it remains high and is still squeezing consumers.

The Fed will meet again in early May and is expected to raise its benchmark interest rate by another quarter point. Wall Street is betting that the Fed will take a break from raising interest rates after that meeting.

Wall Street is anticipating more economic data next week that could provide greater insight into inflation’s impact and the economy’s path. The reports will included consumer confidence for April, first-quarter gross domestic product and another government update on prices and inflation.

Markets in Europe were showing small gains Friday, while exchanges in Asia declined overnight.