By Stan Choe
Stocks are ticking higher Wednesday, adding to the strong run that has pulled Wall Street to its highest levels in more than 15 months.
The S&P 500 was 0.4% higher in early trading, coming off its highest closing level since early April 2022. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 187 points, or 0.5%, at 33,139, as of 9:55 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.2% higher.
Elevance Health was helping to lead the market after it jumped 7.5% The insurance provider reported stronger profit and revenue for the spring than analysts expected, while raising its forecast for earnings over the full year.
Stocks also broadly got a boost from easing pressure from the bond market, where yields fell after a report showed U.K. inflation cooled by more than expected. It eased to 7.9% in June, a 15-month low.
The U.K. data follows encouraging U.S. reports that have raised hope inflation is moderating enough to convince the Federal Reserve to soon halt its hikes to interest rates. That could allow the economy to avoid a long-predicted recession.
The pressure caused by high rates has already helped cause the collapse of several U.S. banks, which saw customers suddenly flee in flocks. Other smaller and midsized banks have since been under heavy scrutiny by investors, and they're beginning to report their results for the spring.
Western Alliance Bancorp bounced from an early loss to a gain of 2.8% after reporting weaker profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. It also said customers added $3.5 billion in deposits from April through June.
U.S. Bancorp rose 0.7% after reporting weaker profit than expected but slightly stronger revenue. Goldman Sachs added 0.3% it fell short of profit expectations for the latest quarter but topped forecasts for revenue.
One of Wall Street's biggest winners was Carvana, which jumped 35.1%. The used-car dealer agreed with its lenders to reduce its debt by $1.2 billion. It also reported a milder net loss for the latest quarter than analysts expected.
The earnings reporting season is picking up momentum in its second week, and expectations are broadly low. Analysts are forecasting a third straight quarter of drops in earnings per share for S&P 500 companies, but that low bar also makes it easier for companies to top expectations.
Trucking company J.B. Hunt Transport Services reported a drop in earnings per share for the latest quarter that was worse than analysts expected. But its stock nevertheless rose 2.6%. Analysts pointed to the company's highlighting some encouraging trends, with a possible return to growth appearing closer on the horizon.
In stock markets abroad, the FTSE 100 in London jumped 2% following the encouraging inflation data there.
Stocks were mixed elsewhere in Europe and across Asia. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.3%, partly due to selling of property shares after troubled developer China Evergrande reported its total debts rose in the past two years to about $340 billion.
In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 3.74% from 3.79% late Tuesday. It helps set rates for mortgages and other important loans.
AP Business writers Matt Ott and Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.