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US stocks hang close to records after mixed profit reports

U.S. stock indexes held close to their record highs following a mixed set of earnings reports Wednesday, where some big companies topped Wall Street’s expectations and others warned that the slowing global economy and trade tensions are hitting their profits.

The S&P 500 flipped between small gains and losses as trading opened for the day, similar to how it’s been trading over the past couple weeks. It remains within about 1% of its record, set in July.

Overseas stock markets were mixed as the United Kingdom’s pending exit from the European Union appeared set for yet another delay. Treasury yields fell, as did the price of oil.

One of the biggest drags on the S&P 500 was Texas Instruments, which said its customers have become far more cautious than they were even 90 days ago, with trade tensions a big factor. It reported stronger profits for the latest quarter than analysts expected, but its forecast for revenue this quarter fell short of their estimates.

Caterpillar, another company whose fortunes are seen on Wall Street as closely tied to President Donald Trump’s trade wars, fell after reporting weaker-than-expected profit for the latest quarter.

On the winning side was Thermo Fisher Scientific, which reported stronger-than-expected profits and raised its forecast for full-year revenue and profit. Boston Scientific jumped to one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after reporting a bigger profit than expected.

Boeing jumped 3.5% after it said it expects its 737 Max airplane to return to service by the end of the year and that it will gradually increase 737 production by late 2020.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 2 points, or 0.1%, at 2,998, as of 9:50 a.m.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 56 points, or 0.2%, to 26,840, and the Nasdaq composite added 0.1%.

OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX edged down almost 0.1% while France’s CAC 40 shed 0.6%. London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3% after British lawmakers approved a deal for the country to leave the European Union, but rejected fast-tracking it through parliament, raising the prospect of another delay to the Oct. 31 Brexit date.

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said he would recommend the other 27 nations in the trade bloc grant Britain’s request for an extension to the deadline. The date could be pushed back to the end of January but the country could also face a general election in that time, raising some new uncertainties around the whole process.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.3%, the Kospi in South Korea fell 0.4% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.8%.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 22 cents to $54.26 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, retreated 18 cents to $59.52 per barrel.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.73% from 1.76% late Tuesday. It’s been on a general decline for nearly a year.

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