The major U.S. stock indexes edged higher in early trading Wednesday as investors looked ahead to the start of corporate earnings reports later this week. Energy stocks led the gainers as crude oil prices headed higher, while phone and real estate stocks lagged the most.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 79 points, or 0.4 percent, to 19,934 as of 10:37 a.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,271. The Nasdaq composite index rose 9 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,561. The Nasdaq has closed at a record high the past four days in a row.
EARNINGS SEASON: Big U.S. companies start reporting fourth-quarter earnings this week. On Friday JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America release their results.
FASTER IS BETTER: Drugmaker Merck rose 4.7 percent on news that the Food and Drug Administration will do a quick review of one of the company's drugs for its potential to treat a type of lung cancer. The stock added $2.84 at $62.77.
HEALTHY OUTLOOK: Intuitive Surgical gained 3.3 percent after the robotic surgical systems maker delivered a strong fourth-quarter sales forecast. The stock rose $22.02 to $684.22.
SALES SLUMP: Signet Jewelers slid 4.2 percent after the company cut its profit forecast for the fourth quarter and current fiscal year. Signet said its total sales fell 5 percent over the holidays, citing technical problems at its e-commerce business. The stock fell $3.71 to $83.75.
DISAPPOINTING FORECAST: Auto parts supplier BorgWarner was down 1.6 percent after it issued a profit and sales forecast that fell short of what Wall Street was anticipating. The stock shed 65 cents to $40.12.
TRUMP FACTOR: Investors are awaiting President-elect Donald Trump's first news conference in nearly six months, as questions fly over Russia's role in the election year hacking of Democratic groups. Investors were awaiting news on Trump's plan to disengage from his businesses and on his policy positions on international trade.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX was up 0.6 percent, while France's CAC 40 was 0.3 percent higher. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.5 percent. In Asia, a strong earnings forecast from Samsung Electronics helped drive gains on the South Korean stock market, where the Kospi added 1.5 percent and hit its highest close in over a year. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.3 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 22 cents at $51.04 a barrel in New York, having lost $1.14 the day before. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold internationally, was up 40 cents at $54.04 a barrel in London.
BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held at 2.38 percent.
CURRENCIES: The pound continued to weaken amid concern that Britain might break off completely from the European Union's single market. The currency was trading at $1.2056, down from $1.2163 the day before. The dollar rose to 116.38 yen from 115.73 yen late Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.0491 from $1.0560.