NEW YORK -- The S&P 500 eked out a record high Wednesday, as investors weighed positive earnings from the technology industry against disappointing news from Boeing and other companies.
Apple's (AAPL) earnings topped Wall Street expectations, helped by rising shipments of iPhones. Microsoft (MSFT) also reported results that beat forecasts.
So far, with less than a fourth of U.S.-listed companies reporting their quarterly financial performance, results have been coming in better than expected. About 72 percent of Standard & Poor's 500 companies that have reported earnings have beaten expectations, and 73 percent have beaten sales forecasts.
"It's a little early, but things seem to be coming in OK," said Sahak Manuelian, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.
Investors have become increasingly optimistic about the latest quarter. On June 30, they expected earnings to rise 4.9 percent from a year earlier. They now expect earnings to increase 5.5 percent.
The S&P 500 (^GPSC) rose 3.48 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 1,987.01, beating its previous record from July 3 by less than two points. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 17.68 points, or 0.4 percent, to end at 4,473.70. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) bucked the trend. It fell 26.91 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,086.63, and was dragged down by Boeing (BA).
The aircraft maker slipped $3.03, or 2 percent, to $126.71, the biggest fall in the Dow, after reporting revenue that missed analysts' expectations.
The Dow is a price-weighted index that has 30 stocks, so the movement of just one company can carry extra weight. Because Boeing is one of the Dow's most expensive stocks, it has an outsized impact.
Biotechnology stocks, meanwhile, helped lift the other major indexes.
Puma Biotechnology (PBYI), a drug development company, soared after the company disclosed positive trial results for an experimental breast cancer drug. Puma rose $174.40, or 295 percent, to $233.43. Biogen Idec (BIIB) rose $33.93, or 11 percent, to $337.60 after its quarterly results came in above investors' expectations.
Unlike last week, investors were less focused on turmoil in Israel and Ukraine. However, market strategists say that with markets trading at all-time highs, any bad news could weigh on U.S. stocks.
"Geopolitical flare-ups, European bank-related market jitters, today's stretched valuations and relatively low market volatility leave [the market] vulnerable," Russ Koesterich, chief investment strategist at Blackrock, wrote in a note to investors.
In other markets, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged at 2.47 percent from Tuesday. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 17 cents to $104.42 a barrel.
Among significant stock moves:
• Apple rose $2.47, or 2.6 percent, to $97.19 after reporting late Tuesday that its profit rose by 12 percent in its latest quarter.
• Electronic Arts fell $2.38, or 6.2 percent, to $36.04. The video game publisher reported a 51 percent rise in earnings late Tuesday, but said it will delay the release of the latest version of its popular "Battlefield" title until 2015, missing the crucial holiday season.
What to Watch Thursday:
- The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
- At 10 a.m., Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates, and the Commerce Department releases new home sales for June.
- 3M (MMM)
- Airgas (ARG)
- Alaska Air Group (ALK)
- Amazon.com (AMZN)
- American Airlines Group (AAL)
- Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY)
- Canon (CAJ)
- Caterpillar (CAT)
- Celgene (CELG)
- Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE)
- D.R. Horton (DHI)
- Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS)
- Dunkin' Brands Group (DNKN)
- Eli Lilly (LLY)
- Ford Motor (F)
- General Motors (GM)
- Hershey (HSY)
- Jarden (JAH)
- JetBlue Airways (JBLU)
- KKR (KKR)
- Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ)
- Nokia (NOK)
- Pandora Media (P)
- PulteGroup (PHM)
- Raytheon (RTN)
- Regal Entertainment Group (RGC)
- Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL)
- Southwest Airlines (LUV)
- Starbucks (SBUX)
- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (HOT)
- T. Rowe Price Group (TROW)
- Tempur Sealy International (TPX)
- Under Armour (UA)
- Unilever (UN)
- Union Pacific (UNP)
- United Continental Holdings (UAL)
- Visa (V)
- Wipro (WIT)
- Wyndham Worldwide (WYN)