The Dow traded 0.1% lower, the S&P 500 was up 0.33%, and the Nasdaq climbed 0.6%.
Dow component IBM traded at roughly a five-month low on Wednesday after the computing giant said first-quarter earnings fell 13% to $1.8 billion and revenue declined for the 20th consecutive quarter. Adjusted earnings were $2.38 a share, higher than a target of $2.35, though revenue of $18.2 billion fell short of $18.4 billion. IBM has been shifting toward areas it calls "strategic imperatives," such as cloud-based services, security software and artificial intelligence, and away from its legacy businesses of selling hardware and software.
IBM shares fell nearly 6%.
New York-based Morgan Stanley earned $1.93 billion, or $1 a share, in its most recent quarter, up from $1.13 billion, or 55 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $9.75 billion from $7.79 billion. Analysts anticipated earnings of 89 cents a share on $9.27 billion in revenue. Return on equity of 10.7% came in higher than a 10% target. The stock increased more than 3%.
BlackRock (BLK) exceeded earnings in its first quarter, but fell short of revenue estimates. The company earned an adjusted $5.23 a share, higher than an expected $4.89. Sales rose 8% to $2.82 billion, falling shy of analysts' targets of $2.86 billion. Long-term net inflows to iShares ETFs were $64.5 billion.
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink told Bloomberg Wednesday that U.S. economic "warning signs are getting darker" on concerns over whether the Trump administration will be able to pass tax reform.
U.S. Bancorp (USB) saw an increase in earnings and sales estimates in its first quarter as loan growth boosted its overall performance. Net income increased 6.3% to $1.47 billion, while adjusted earnings of 82 cents a share exceeded estimates by 2 cents. Revenue climbed nearly 6% to $5.32 billion and came in higher than a target of $5.29 billion. Average total loans increased 4.1% from a year earlier.
Banks in general have benefited from increased trading activity compared with a year earlier. On Thursday, Citigroup (C) , JPMorgan (JPM) , and Bank of America (BAC) each beat analysts' estimates. Increasing favor towards equities boosted trading in recent months and propelled U.S. markets to all-time highs. Goldman Sachs (GS) broke away from its peers, however, reporting disappointing earnings on Tuesday, leading to a selloff that pulled broader markets lower.
Financials stocks were the best performers on markets Wednesday. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) , JPMorgan, Wells Fargo (WFC) , Bank of America and Citigroup were higher, while the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) added 1%.
Yahoo! (YHOO) swung to a profit in its first quarter. Earnings of 10 cents a share compared to a loss of 10 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted earnings of 18 cents a share topped estimates by 2 cents. Revenue in the quarter, after subtracting ad commissions, fell 3% to $834 million. The first quarter earnings will be Yahoo!'s last as public company as the company's $4.5 billion sale of its core business to Verizon (VZ) is expected to close in June before the end of the second quarter.
Abbott Laboratories (ABT) beat on the top- and bottom-lines over its first quarter. The health care company earned an adjusted 48 cents a share, higher than previous guidance of 42 cents to 44 cents a share. Sales grew 29.7% in a year marked by acquisitions and new products, while comparable operations sales grew 3.2%.
Crude oil prices held near the flatline Wednesday after a weekly reading on inventories showed a decline, though not as steep as analysts anticipated. U.S. stockpiles shrank by 1 million barrels after a decline of 2.2 million barrels a week earlier, according to the Energy Information Administration. Analysts anticipated a decline of roughly 1.5 million barrels. Gasoline stockpiles rose, while distillates fell.
West Texas Intermediate crude was flat at $52.40 a barrel.
It's fairly quiet on the economic calendar in the U.S. on Wednesday with just the Federal Reserve's "Beige Book" at 2 p.m. EDT.