Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • International Business Machines Corp. (IBM - Get Report) tumbled 7.6%, pulling the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower.
  • Morgan Stanley (MS - Get Report)   rose just 0.06% after posting a 38% increase in first-quarter profit.
  • S&P 500 companies are expected to post an 18.6% increase in first-quarter profit, the biggest rise in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks were mixed on Wednesday, April 18, as investors weighed strong earnings from Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley ( MS - Get Report)  against disappointing results from International Business Machines Corp. ( IBM - Get Report)  . 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 38 points, or 0.16%. The S&P 500 rose 0.08% and the Nasdaq was up 0.19%. 

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM - Get Report) shares fell 7.6% on Wednesday after the tech giant reported a weaker-than-expected profit margin in an otherwise solid set of first-quarter earnings.

IBM said revenue for the three months ended in March rose 5% to just more than $19 billion, its second consecutive quarter of sales growth after two years of declines. The company noted, however, that its gross margin, a key measure of profitability, slid 0.8% from the same period last year to 43.7%, a figure that fell far short of analysts' forecasts.

Compared with some of the prior IBM earnings reports that have sparked selloffs, the numbers provided in Big Blue's latest release weren't especially harsh, wrote TheStreet's Eric Jhonsa. But the fact that IBM shares were falling in response to the numbers might say something about how, following years of underperforming IT peers and promising major top- and bottom-line turnarounds, investor patience has run thin.

Morgan Stanley's profit in the first quarter rose 38%. Earnings were $1.45 a share in the quarter, topping estimates of $1.25. Stock-trading revenue increased by 27% from a year earlier to $2.56 billion, while revenue from fixed-income trading rose 9% to $1.87 billion. 

Morgan Stanley shares finished up 0.06% on Wednesday after trading higher for most of the session.

Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Get Report)  posted modestly stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings and boosted its dividend payment thanks in part to strong sales of its new glucose monitoring system. The stock fell 0.43%.

Abbott said adjusted earnings for the three months ended in March were 59 cents a share, just edging ahead of the 58-cent Wall Street consensus and rising 22.9% from the same period last year. Sales for the quarter also topped estimates, rising 16.7% to $739 billion. The Abbott Park, Ill.-based group also said it expects to see adjusted earnings of between 70 cents and 72 cents a share for the current quarter, a range that falls largely in line with Wall Street estimates.

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United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL - Get Report) , the parent of United Airlines, rose 4.8% after reporting first-quarter earnings and sales that beat analysts' expectations.

CSX Corp. (CSX - Get Report)  rose 7.8% on Wednesday after the Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad company reported a top- and bottom-line beat for the first quarter, driven by lower costs and restructuring expenses.

Shares of eBay Inc. (EBAY - Get Report) rose 2.8% after Morgan Stanley upgraded its outlook for the online marketplace company following its recent decision to develop a new payments partnership with Dutch provider Adyen BV.

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