Trade deal hopes, surging health stocks power Wall Street to highs

By Lewis Krauskopf (Reuters) - Wall Street's main stock indexes closed at record levels on Friday, fueled by fresh optimism over a potential calming of U.S.-China trade tensions and by big gains in shares of healthcare companies. The benchmark S&P 500 tallied its sixth straight week of gains, its longest such weekly streak in about two years, while the Dow breached 28,000 for the first time. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said late on Thursday that the United States and China are getting close to a trade agreement, citing what he called very constructive talks with Beijing.

Reuters November 16, 2019 04:05:35 IST
Trade deal hopes, surging health stocks power Wall Street to highs

Trade deal hopes surging health stocks power Wall Street to highs

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) - Wall Street's main stock indexes closed at record levels on Friday, fueled by fresh optimism over a potential calming of U.S.-China trade tensions and by big gains in shares of healthcare companies.

The benchmark S&P 500 tallied its sixth straight week of gains, its longest such weekly streak in about two years, while the Dow breached 28,000 for the first time.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said late on Thursday that the United States and China are getting close to a trade agreement, citing what he called very constructive talks with Beijing.

“Today is definitely about optimism surrounding the trade tensions,” said Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth at Glenmede in Philadelphia.

The stock market has climbed recently to record highs, driven by Federal Reserve interest rate cuts, third-quarter earnings topping low expectations and signs that economic growth may be bottoming, while uncertainty over U.S.-China trade relations remains a wild card.

"It’s definitely been a big source of volatility over a fairly long period of time for the markets and stocks in general," Pride said. "To see some sort of resolution of it would probably be a lift to investors and to equity holders because it takes away a big piece of uncertainty in many investors’, and even corporate executives’, minds.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 222.93 points, or 0.8%, to 28,004.89, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 23.83 points, or 0.77%, to 3,120.46 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 61.81 points, or 0.73%, to 8,540.83.

Ten of 11 S&P 500 sectors ended positive. Healthcare <.SPXHC> led the way, gaining 2.2% for its biggest one-day percentage rise since January, with UnitedHealth Group shares surging 5.3% and Pfizer rising 2.0%.

The gains came as President Donald Trump made an announcement on healthcare price transparency. Regulatory and election risks have contributed to the healthcare sector's underperformance in 2019, said Walter Todd, chief investment officer at Greenwood Capital in South Carolina, noting that perhaps Friday's gains were "a catch-up trade."

Shares of Applied Materials soared 9.0% after the chip gear maker forecast first-quarter revenue and profit above Wall Street estimates.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index <.SOX> gained 0.9% and hit a record high. Enthusiasm for the group was tempered by a 2.7% decline in Nvidia shares following the chipmaker's report.

Data on Friday showed U.S. retail sales rebounded in October, but consumers cut back on purchases of big-ticket household items and clothing, which could temper expectations for a strong holiday shopping season.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.84-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.50-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 52 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 121 new highs and 108 new lows.

About 6.5 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, below the 6.9 billion-share daily average over the last 20 sessions.

(Additional reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.