Stocks end flat as weak earnings fuel recession fears

STORY: U.S. stocks on Wednesday ended mostly flat - but all three major indexes pared losses throughout the day, with the Dow eking out a small gain.

The Dow closed up fractionally, while the S&P dropped by a hair and the Nasdaq lost nearly two tenths of a percent.

A string of corporate earnings ran the gamut from downbeat to dismal, reviving worries over the economic impact of the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes.

Tim Pagliara is Chairman and Chief Investment Officer at CapWealth.

“What’s driving the markets today I believe is still this uncertainty on how much the Fed is going to have to do to get inflation under control – meaning, how high are rates gonna have to go. And then, what’s the impact of slowing the economy on earnings and the pricing and the valuation of the companies out on the different exchanges.”

The tech-laden Nasdaq was weighed down after Microsoft, the first major technology firm to post quarterly results, offered dour guidance and raised red flags with respect to its mega cap peers which have yet to report.

Boeing’s shares reversed an earlier dip, turning positive after the plane maker posted widening losses for 2022, but reported its first positive cash flow since 2018 on the strength of commercial airplane deliveries.

AT&T delivered disappointing guidance but its renewed focus on its telecoms business helped boost subscriber numbers, sending its shares higher.

And News Corp jumped after Rupert Murdoch withdrew a proposal to reunite it with Fox Corporation.

Fourth-quarter earnings season has shifted into overdrive, with 95 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. According to Refintiv, 67% of those have beat consensus estimates, well below the 76% average beat rate over the past four quarters.