Banks, technology lead stocks higher for 4th-straight day

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

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NEW YORK, United States (AP) — US stocks climbed for the fourth-straight day yesterday as strong earnings continued to pull the market closer to the all-time high it set in late January.

Industrial companies rose yesterday and banks moved higher as interest rates increased. Gains for Microsoft and Google's parent company Alphabet helped technology companies.

Companies including Hertz, Etsy, and Mosaic climbed after their results surpassed investors' forecasts. Tesla surged after CEO Elon Musk later said he might take the company private.

Gina Martin Adams, chief equity strategist for Bloomberg Intelligence, said companies are reporting huge profit and revenue growth. That's nudged concerns about trade tensions with China, Europe, Canada, and Mexico out of investors' minds.

“Very strong top-line and bottom line growth from the vast majority of companies overwhelmed any fears that started to bubble up in June,” she said.

She added that the tariffs the US and its trading partners have announced recently are still small and haven't affected the broader market very much.

The S&P 500 index rose 8.05 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,858.45. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 126.73 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 25,628.91. The Nasdaq composite gained 23.99 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 7,883.66. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks edged up 3.99 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 1,688.30.

The S&P 500 closed at an all-time high on January 26. After that, it dropped 10 per cent in nine days as investors worried about signs that inflation was accelerating. That hasn't materialised, but trade fears have weighed on the market since then.

Rental car company Hertz soared 24.6 per cent to US$19.53, its biggest gain in almost a decade. But even with that huge gain the stock is still down 12 per cent for the year.

A little more than four years ago, Hertz stock traded above US$120 a share. It plunged as the company dealt with overcapacity in the rental car market and the value of its vehicles decreased. Hertz has changed CEOs twice in four years.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.98 per cent from 2.95 per cent. Banks and financial companies also climbed as interest rates rose.

Tesla stock climbed after the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund had invested in the company. It soared further after Musk tweeted that he might take the electric car maker private.

He followed up with a blog post saying he hadn't made a decision, but such a move would make it easier for Tesla to focus on long-term goals.

Musk, who owns about 20 per cent of Tesla's stock, said he would pay US$420 a share, well above Tesla's all-time high from September. The stock gained 11 per cent to US$379.57.

Dental products maker Dentsply cut its forecasts and took a US$1.26-billion charge connected to its technology and equipment business. The company said sales and profit margins have been weaker than expected and it plans to restructure its business. The stock dropped 18.7 per cent to US$39.41.

Online real estate marketplace Zillow cut its revenue forecast for the year and also said it's buying Mortgage Lenders of America. Terms weren't disclosed. The stock fell 14.8 per cent to US$49.56.

Weight Watchers International sank 14.8 per cent to US$78.53. The weight loss company raised its forecasts for the year but said it lost subscribers in the second quarter.

The stock was worth about US$6 per share in October 2015 when the company announced a deal with Oprah Winfrey to promote its products.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said health insurer Cigna shouldn't buy pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts. He said the US$52-billion deal costs too much and that Express Scripts faces several major threats.

Icahn owns Cigna stock and has bet that Express Scripts stock will fall. But both stocks rose yesterday. Express Scripts gained 2.8 per cent to US$78.95 and Cigna rose 0.2 per cent to US$188.27.

Cigna is up five per cent since the Wall Street Journal reported that Icahn is against the deal. Express Scripts is down less than one per cent.

US crude oil picked up 0.2 per cent to US$69.17 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, rose 1.2 per cent to US$74.65 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline added 1.9 per cent to US$2.10 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1.4 per cent to US$2.17 a gallon. Natural gas gained 1.3 per cent to US$2.90 per 1,000 cubic feet.

A Government newspaper said Beijing planned to issue policies to encourage investment amid concern about slowing economic growth and trade tensions. The China Daily said some State banks issued orders to local branches to lend more money.

Gold was little changed at US$1,218.30 an ounce. Silver edged up 0.2 per cent to US$15.37 an ounce. Copper rose 0.8 per cent to US$2.75 a pound.

The dollar rose to 111.43 yen from 111.40 yen. The euro rose to US$1.1594 from US$1.1556.

Germany's DAX rose 0.4 per cent and France's CAC 40 advanced 0.9 per cent. London's FTSE 100 gained 0.7 per cent.

The Japanese Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.5 per cent. In South Korea, the Kospi rose 0.6 per cent.

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