* Nike, Philip Morris up after stock upgrade
* IBM lower after saying higher tax rates will hit profit
* AmEx posts first loss in 26 years on tax charge
* Dow off 0.21 pct, S&P up 0.16 pct, Nasdaq up 0.34 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Sruthi Shankar
Jan 19 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq edged higher on Friday following positive brokerage recommendations on a bunch of consumer names, but the Dow was reined in by losses in IBM.
Philip Morris, Nike and Home Depot rose between 1.3 percent and 4 percent as analysts expect lower taxes and improving trends to boost their earnings.
“We’ve seen estimates being raised for 2018, so that provides some fundamental underpinnings for the strength we’ve in equity markets,” said Bill Northey, senior vice president of U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Helena, Montana.
However, a “disappointing” full-year profit forecast from IBM pushed its shares down 4 percent, on track for their biggest single-day loss since July 2017.
American Express slipped 3 percent after posting its first quarterly loss in 26 years and suspended buybacks for the next six months.
At 12:42 p.m. ET (1742 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 53.94 points, or 0.21 percent, at 25,963.87. The S&P 500 was up 4.54 points, or 0.16 percent, at 2,802.57 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 25.02 points, or 0.34 percent, at 7,321.07.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 0.85 percent gain in the consumer staples index and a 0.63 percent rise in discretionary stocks.
The U.S. Senate raced to avert a government shutdown ahead of a midnight deadline with no agreement on funding in sight.
Although the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to extend the funding through Feb. 16, the bill appeared to be on the verge of collapse in the Senate.
“The market appears to be looking through this as a non-essential event, although we’re seeing a little bit of a pickup in volatility in the last couple of days,” Northey said.
Oil prices were down more than 1 percent as a bounce-back in U.S. production outweighed ongoing declines in crude inventories.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,718 to 1,111. On the Nasdaq, 2,004 issues rose and 896 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)