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A few big earnings beats could help lift the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 23,000 on Wednesday.


A few big earnings beats could help lift the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 23,000 on Wednesday, after the index just missed the mark at Tuesday's close of trading.

Giants in U.S. health care, technology and banking will be in the spotlight Wednesday morning with third-quarter financial reports giving investors plenty to digest.

Pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories, which is trading close to an all-time high, is expected to post earnings growth of 12 per cent over the prior quarter.

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Meanwhile, with earnings season winding down for the banks, U.S. Bancorp is also due to report performance prior to Wednesday's opening.

Financials make up the single best-performing sector of the S&P 500 index over the last year, having risen by 35 per cent over that time. The resulting elevation in valuations has put increased scrutiny on earnings growth to keep equity prices buoyant.

The five biggest U.S. banks by market capitalization have already obliged bullish investors, with all five having beat the Street's profit forecasts.

For most of them, record highs in equity prices have translated into strength in wealth and asset management revenues.

U.S. Bancorp, the sixth largest, could keep the streak alive on Wednesday. Analysts covering the stock are estimating earnings growth of about 6 per cent over the same quarter last year.

Tech stocks, meanwhile, which happen to be the second-best performing U.S. sector of the past 12 months, are also showing strong early results this earnings season.

Software companies Oracle Corp., Adobe Systems Inc. and Red Hat Inc., as well as chip-maker Micron Technology Inc., have all come in ahead of estimates.

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IBM Corp. held form after the close of trading on Tuesday, but just barely, as its profit edged out forecasts by a hair. That was enough to boost the stock in post-market trading.

It's still early days in Canadian earnings season, with Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. joining the ranks of the early reporters after Tuesday's closing bell.

Higher shipments helped lift CP's adjusted earnings per share by 6 per cent over last year, narrowly beating forecasts. The company's New York-listed shares responded to the upside in after-market trading.

Should you be investing in ETFs or mutual funds? Rob Carrick, personal finance columnist, lays out specific investments, services and brands that are currently great deals for Canadian investors.
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