By Georgi Kantchev
Global stock markets paused Wednesday after strong earnings propelled U.S. stocks to new highs.
In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 was down 0.1%. That followed losses across most Asian markets.
Futures pointed to a broadly flat open for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The S&P 500 registered its first record-high close of 2019 on Wednesday, while the Dow is within less than a percentage point of an all-time high.
Strong earnings have boosted stocks this week, in a year marked by a more accommodative Federal Reserve and a stable economy. The rally marked a strong reversal from the fourth quarter of 2018 when a selloff dragged the Nasdaq into bear-market territory and left the S&P 500 teetering on the edge of ending its longest bull run ever.
Analysts said Wednesday that concerns China may slow the pace of policy easing following stronger-than-expected first-quarter growth is dampening investor sentiment. Traders were also monitoring the latest moves in trade negotiations between Beijing and Washington, which are slated to restart next week.
More broadly, the focus remained on the strong earnings results in recent days from companies like Twitter, aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and industrial conglomerate United Technologies. Investors have been looking to the earnings season for clues about the strength of businesses and the economy.
"Earnings expectations were dialed down. It turns out things are much better," said Randy Warren, chief investment officer of Philadelphia-based Warren Financial. "Markets have the support to go higher."
Of the 104 companies in the S&P 500 to report results so far, 78% have beaten analysts' expectations, compared with about 65% in the fourth quarter, according to data from Refinitiv. The bar is significantly lower, however, after steep downgrades to 2019 earnings forecasts in recent months.
The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of 16 currencies, was up 0.2%. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield was down at 2.551% from 2.570% on Tuesday. Yields move inversely to prices.
In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.5% while Japan's Nikkei was down 0.3%.
In commodities, Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, was down 0.5%, while gold prices fell 0.1%.
Write to Georgi Kantchev at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 24, 2019 04:22 ET (08:22 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.