NEW YORK -- The Dow Jones industrial average rose, closing above 15,000 for a second day after breaching the landmark level for the first time Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a day without any major economic releases, investors focused on company earnings as reporting for the first quarter draws to a close. Although earnings growth has slowed from last quarter, profits are at record levels and projected to rise throughout the year.
Internet company AOL plunged as its subscription revenue fell, and hamburger chain Wendy's slumped after it reported revenue that fell short of Wall Street's expectations. On the positive side, high-end grocer Whole Foods and the video game publisher Electronic Arts rose sharply after predicting full-year profits that were higher than analysts were expecting.
Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, predicted more gains in the short term, but he also said a pullback was likely at some point because the rise in the market is beginning to overstate the improvement in the economy. "We're still going to keep grinding higher," he said, but added: "I do think the market is ahead of itself."
The Dow closed up 48.92 points, or 0.3 percent, at 15,105.12. The index is 15.3 percent higher for the year. The S&P 500 index was 6.73 points higher, or 0.4 percent, at 1,632.69, extending its advance for 2013 to 14.5 percent. The Nasdaq composite gained 16.64 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,413.27. The Russell 2000, an index of smaller stocks, rose 2.59 points, or 0.3 percent, to 970.41.
About 90 percent of companies in the S&P 500 index have reported their earnings for the first quarter. Financial analysts predict that earnings will end up rising 5.1 percent versus the same period a year ago, according to S&P Capital IQ. Although that's slower growth than the 7.7 percent growth of the previous quarter, they are expected to grow 12 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013.
AOL plunged $3.68, or 8.9 percent, to $37.74 after the company reported earnings that fell short of the forecasts of Wall Street analysts who follow the stock. Subscription revenue fell 9 percent.
Wendy's fell 34 cents, or 5.6 percent, to $5.78 after it reported a 2 percent rise in revenue to $603.7 million, short of the $615 million forecast of analysts.
Whole Foods climbed $9.39, or 10.1 percent, to $102.19 after the natural foods store chain said its fiscal second-quarter net income rose 20 percent. The company also raised its profit forecast for the full year.
Electronic Arts, which makes the "Madden Football" games and "SimCity," jumped $3.15, or 17.1 percent, to $21.56 after it projected profits for the current fiscal year that were higher than analysts were expecting.businessnews