US equities moved higher, bolstered by gains in shares of McDonald's amid an analyst upgrade for the stock.

Shares of McDonald's rose, leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average higher, after Longbow Research raised its rating on the stock to buy from neutral.

"Given our latest positive checks and favourable short and long-term view of MCD's fundamentals, we are upgrading the shares this morning," analyst Alton Stump wrote in a note to clients Thursday, CNBC reported. "Beyond positive trends for the current quarter, we believe the shares of MCD deserve to trade above the company's own historical multiples in light of its ongoing turnaround story both in the US and internationally."

Wall Street was mixed. In 2.27pm trading in New York, the Dow rose 0.19 per cent.

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However, the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.07 per cent. In 2.12pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 0.14 per cent.

"The market is doing what it has been doing a lot of this year, it doesn't surge to new levels, it just crawls to new levels," Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute in St Louis, told Reuters.

"People are comfortable owning stocks, but for us, these valuations are pretty stretched, especially for something like smallcaps."

The Dow moved higher as advances in shares of McDonald's and those of Exxon Mobil, recently up 2.4 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively, outweighed declines in shares of Walt Disney and those of United Technologies, each recently 1 per cent weaker. Investors digested the Trump administration's tax reform plans, announced on Wednesday.

"US tax policy is key right now but we don't have a lot of details," Mark McCormick, North American head of foreign-exchange strategy at Toronto-Dominion Bank, told Bloomberg. "The key is we don't know the trade-off, we don't know who wins and we don't know who loses."

The VIX, or the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index which measures expectations of future volatility in stocks, fell 1.2 per cent to 9.75.

In the latest US economic data, a Commerce Department report showed gross domestic product expanded at a 3.1 per cent annual rate in the second quarter, an upward revision from its previous estimate of 3.0 per cent.

The market is doing what it has been doing a lot of this year, it doesn't surge to new levels, it just crawls to new levels.

The impact of recent hurricanes is expected to affect US growth in the next quarter. "The destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the resulting disruption ... are expected to be a drag on third-quarter growth," Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors in Kalamazoo, Michigan, told Reuters. "Nonetheless, the economy remains on track."

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Shares of Kellogg slipped after the world's top cereal maker appointed Steven Cahillane as chief executive officer of to replace John Bryant, who is stepping down effective Monday after seven years at the helm.

Bryant will continue as executive chairman of the board until March 15, 2018, at which time Cahillane will assume the role of Chairman and CEO, the company said in a statement.

Kellogg shares traded 0.4 per cent weaker as of 1.09pm in New York.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session with a 0.2 per cent increase from the previous close. The UK's FTSE 100 Index rose 0.1 per cent, France's CAC 40 Index gained 0.2 per cent, while Germany's DAX Index advanced 0.4 per cent.