U.S. equities closed mixed on Thursday after hitting new record highs, as investors digested several key earnings reports.
Among the firms reporting Thursday were Ford and Dow component Caterpillar. Ford matched earnings estimates, while topping sales expectations. Caterpillar beat earnings estimates but fell short of revenue expectations. Alphabet, Intel, Microsoft, and Starbucks are among companies that reported after the bell.
"Companies are still able to beat on the bottom line, but are having a tougher time doing that on the top [line]," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank. "That could be a trend in cost cutting."
Thirty percent of S&P 500 companies had reported quarterly earnings as of Thursday morning, with 70 percent exceeding analyst expectations on the bottom line and 56 percent beating sales estimates, according to data from The Earnings Scout.
"We have reached the heart of the Q4 earnings season. The deluge of releases from the next two weeks will confirm whether the final three months of 2016 marked a disappointment for companies on a relative basis," said Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities.
"To be sure, the bar for this period was a bit higher than in previous quarters. The hurdle only gets more difficult for corporate executives to clear over the next year as extremely sanguine bottom line forecasts have hardly budged," Klein said.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 30 points, with Goldman Sachs contributing the most gains, hitting a new record high. The S&P 500 broke above 2,300 for the first time, before falling 0.1 percent, with health care falling 0.7 percent to lead decliners..