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US stocks higher as earnings come in mixed

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on October 23, 2013 in New York City
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on October 23, 2013 in New York City

US stocks moved higher Thursday amid a mixed bag of reports from leading companies.

About 35 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 41.16 (0.27 percent) at 15,454.49.

The broad-based S&P 500 was up a scant 0.10 (0.01 percent) at 1,746.48, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 4.92 (0.13 percent) to 3,911.99.

Thursday's batch of quarterly earnings reports continued to paint a mixed picture of economic conditions. Automaker Ford and industrial and consumer product company 3M exceeded expectations, while United Continental and Dow Chemical fell short. analyst Patrick O'Hare said there was still a prevailing sense among investors to "buy the dip," providing support to share prices overall.

Ford rose 1.7 percent after earnings of 45 cents per share bested expectations by 8 cents, helped by shrinking losses in Europe and record sales in the Asia Pacific and Africa division.

3M rose 0.6 percent after earnings of $1.78 per share bested expectations by 3 cents. Revenues also outperformed.

Dow Chemical slid 2.7 percent after earnings per share came in 5 cents short of forecasts of 54 cents, and revenues also disappointed. The company said it plans $3-4 billion in divestitures.

Copy-machine manufacturer Xerox fell 7.2 percent after forecasting fourth-quarter earnings of 28-30 cents per share, below current analyst projections of 33 cents. Revenues also lagged expectations for the third quarter.

Digital security company Symantec fell 11.2 percent after forecasting earnings for the upcoming quarter at 41-43 cents per share, well below the 51 cents seen by analysts. The company said it was committed to achieving its 2015-2017 financial targets.

United Continental lost 2.5 percent after earnings underperformed expectations by 3 cents at $1.51 per share.

"We are not satisfied with our financial performance, and are taking prompt actions to increase our revenue and operate more efficiently across the company," said United Continental chief executive Jeff Smisek.

Bank of America fell 0.9 percent after a US jury in New York concluded that the company defrauded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a lending program that fast-tracked subprime mortgages ahead of the housing bust.

Pharmaceutical distributor McKesson shot up 4.9 percent after announcing an $8.3 billion acquisition of Germany's Celesio, which provides logistics and services to the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.

Bond prices were flat. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury held steady at 2.49 percent, the same level as Wednesday, while the 30-year also remained at 3.58 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.