NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It was a bumpy ride, but stocks managed to close higher on Wednesday, the day before the kickoff of third-quarter earnings season.
Markets moved erratically, in line with crude oil, which rallied before slumping on an increase in domestic inventories.
The S&P 500 was up 0.8%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.73%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.9%.
Third-quarter earnings are expected to decline 4.2% from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters. Similar issues that plagued the second quarter such as a stronger U.S. dollar and lower energy prices are expected to carry over into this past quarter. International companies that derive a bulk of their sales overseas, for example, will likely take a hit on the currency exchange.
"We've seen companies set the bar rather low again for earnings season which has been typical," Chris Gaffney, president of EverBank World Markets, told TheStreet. "What we are looking for is to see what impact the stronger dollar has on U.S. companies. We are expecting and have seen some warnings from some of the multinationals that this strong dollar is hurting sales."
A smattering of companies have reported before Alcoa. Monsanto (MON) missed quarterly estimates on its top- and bottom-lines and revealed plans to cut as many as 2,600 jobs over the next two years. The agricultural company reported a loss of $1.06 a share in its fourth quarter, far steeper than estimates of a loss of 2 cents. Monsanto said lower commodity prices would likely reduce sales through 2016.
Deutsche Bank(DB) - Get Report fell more than 5% in extended trading after the bank said it would take a charge of 5.8 billion euros in the third quarter, tied to higher regulatory requirements in the industry. The bank guided for a quarterly loss between 6 billion and 6.2 billion euros.
Constellation Brands(STZ) - Get Report reported a better-than-expected second quarter, driven by strong growth in its beer brands including Corona and Modelo. Overall beer sales climbed 14% to $1.02 billion, representing 59% of total revenue. Wine and spirit sales increased 3%.
Yum! Brands(YUM) - Get Report plummeted 18.9% after quarterly results showed the company is still suffering from a food safety scandal in its critical Chinese market. Quarterly earnings of $1 a share missed estimates by 7 cents.
Crude oil lost gains of more than 2% after crude inventories rose by 3.1 million barrels in the past week, according to the Energy Information Administration. Analysts had expected inventories to rise by 1.75 million barrels. West Texas Intermediate crude closed down 1.5% at $47.81 a barrel, though remained near levels seen in late August.
Energy and basic materials led market gains despite the drop in crude prices. Among major oil and gas manufacturers, Exxon Mobil(XOM) - Get Report , PetroChina(PTR) - Get ReportRoyal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) and Chevron(CVX) - Get Report moved higher while the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) - Get Report added 1.3%. In the materials sector, Rio Tinto(RIO) - Get Report , BHP Billiton(BHP) - Get Report and LyondellBasell(LYB) - Get Report were sharply higher, while the Materials Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLB) - Get Report climbed 1.3%.
Pure Storage (PSTG) - Get Report opened for trading Wednesday below its initial public offering price of $17 a share. Shares were trading around $16.60 shortly after their market debut. Pure Storage's IPO was priced at the midpoint of its $16 to $18 a share range.
In deals news, Pandora (P) shares dropped 4.6% after the streaming-music service said it purchased the online ticket agency Ticketfly for $450 million in a cash-and-stock deal. Ticketfly focuses on small venues and sold 16 million tickets last year.
SABMiller (SBMRY) has formally rejected a sweetened takeover offer from Anheuser-Busch(BUD) - Get Report . The Budweiser owner had increased its offer to $104 billion in cash, or 42.15 pounds a share ($64.35), in what would have been the biggest deal of the year. The deal represents a 44% premium to SABMiller's trading price before talks began in September.
Exelon(EXC) - Get Report and Pepco (POM) shares were on watch after Washington D.C. Mayor Bowser announced her support for the merger that would create the largest U.S. utility by customer count. Bowser said the deal would boost investment in the city to $78 million from $14 million. The mayor had initially opposed the deal.