Stocks moved mostly higher Wednesday as earnings season pushed shares to new intraday records for all three benchmark indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 23,000 points Wednesday. By midday, the blue-chip index was trading higher by about 0.6%. The S&P 500 Index was also up, gaining about 0.1%. The Nasdaq had traded slightly lower, but was pushing into the green around midday.
Shares of IBM (IBM) boomed in trading early Wednesday after the Dow component reported strong earnings late Tuesday. IBM posted adjusted earnings of $3.30 a share on revenue of $19.2 billion. Both figures beat expectations. Contributing heavily to the third-quarter revenue beat was IBM's Cognitive Solutions segment. That business unit contains a big portion of IBM's software operations. IBM let investors and analysts know that the third quarter was good. But you should expect an even bigger blowout from IBM in its always seasonally strong fourth quarter.
Anthem (ANTM) said Wednesday that it will sign onto a deal with CVS (CVS) to contract the drugstore chain's services for a new pharmacy benefits manager called IngenioRx. CVS will take over services for Anthem's benefits manager program for five years starting in 2020. That's when Anthem's current contract with Express Scripts (ESRX) runs out. The deal with CVS effectually confirmed that Anthem is ending its contractual relationship with Express Scripts, though that was widely expected to happen. Shares of all three companies pushed higher.
Crude oil prices were slightly higher on Wednesday after the EIA reported crude stockpiles fell by 5.7 million barrels last week. Inventories have seen large swings since late August when Hurricane Harvey disrupted refinery processing in Texas and Louisiana. The potential for conflict in Iraq threatened to cut off exports and sent crude stocks higher at the beginning of the week. Reports indicated Iraqi forces had descended upon Kirkuk, a major oil-producing region in Iraq. Troubles in the region have risen since a referendum in which the Kurds voted for independence.
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