US shares seek 3rd straight gain as GM boosts outlook

iStock

New York - US stocks opened higher on Wednesday aiming for a third straight gain as General Motors bolstered sentiment with an improved 2016 earnings forecast and a dividend hike.

Crude oil prices appeared to stabilize, but another fall in the Shanghai stock exchange, by 2.4%, remained a warning of the challenges to equity markets.

About 30 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 44.62 points (0.27%) at 16 560.84.

The broad-market S&P 500 advanced 6.62 (0.34%) to 1 945.30, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite rose 7.32 (0.16%) to 4 693.24.

Tech shares led the gains, with Qualcomm up 2.2% and Microsoft 2.1%. But volatile Twitter lost 2.3%.

GM shares jumped 3% after the automaker lifted its 2016 earnings forecast, raised its dividend by six percent, and boosted its share repurchase program by $4bn to $9bn.

Oil shares gained on the rebound in crude prices which saw US benchmark WTI crude gain 3.7% at $31.57 a barrel a day after touching below $30 for the first time in 12 years.

ExxonMobil shares added 1.6%, Chevron 1.9%, and oilfield services firm Schlumberger 1.3%.

Railroad CSX, one of the first companies to deliver fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 earnings results, lost 2.4% as it reported a 13% fall in income in the final quarter, largely due to a slump in coal shipments.

Rival rail carriers Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern both lost about 0.8%.

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