US STOCKS-Wall St slightly up as earnings season picks up pace

* BlackRock falls after quarterly results miss estimates

* Netflix to report results after market close

* Microsoft, Goldman, Johnson & Johnson results awaited

* Indexes up: Dow 0.07 pct, S&P 0.09 pct, Nasdaq 0.15 pct
(Updates to early afternoon)

By Tanya Agrawal

July 17 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks edged higher and stayed near
record levels in early afternoon trading on Monday, with
investors waiting for big U.S. companies to report their
quarterly earnings.

Analysts’ are estimating an 8.2 percent rise in
second-quarter earnings for the S&P 500 companies from a year
earlier.

This follows a robust first quarter when U.S. companies
posted their best earnings since 2011, according to Thomson
Reuters data.

Microsoft, IBM and Johnson and Johnson
are scheduled to report results this week. Netflix
will report results after the market close on Monday.

Earnings will be closely watched to see if high valuations
are justified in the face of tepid inflation and a recent patch
of mixed economic data.

The S&P 500 has been trading at about 18 times earnings
estimates for the next 12 months, compared with the long-term
average of 15 times.

“After new highs that we saw last week, the market deserves
a rest as investors await big earnings this week,” said Dave
Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Atlantic Trust
Private Wealth Management.

“Our view is that right now the equity market is a
one-legged stool that’s driven by earnings and we’re pretty
optimistic about earnings but if that should falter, the market
will falter.”

At 12:38 p.m. ET (1638 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial
Average was up 14.93 points, or 0.07 percent, at
21,652.67, the S&P 500 was up 2.42 points, or 0.09
percent, at 2,461.69.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 9.60 points, or 0.15
percent, at 6,322.07.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the
materials index’s 0.37 percent rise leading the
advancers.

The financial sector was little changed after
results and forecasts on Friday by big banks such as JPMorgan
, Citigroup and Wells Fargo failed to
excite investors.

Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Goldman
Sachs will report results later this week.

The Dow and the S&P hit record highs on Friday after weak
economic data dulled prospects of more interest rate hikes this
year.

Shares of BlackRock fell 3.4 percent after the
world’s biggest asset manager’s quarterly profit came in below
expectations.

Meal-kit company Blue Apron Holdings fell 10.3
percent after an Amazon unit filed a trademark for a
competing meal-kit service earlier this month. Amazon was up 1
percent and provided the biggest boost to the Nasdaq.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,709
to 1,112. On the Nasdaq, 1,570 issues rose and 1,183 fell.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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