Wall Street edges higher on industrial gains; healthcare drags again

By Amy Caren Daniel and Sruthi Shankar (Reuters) - U.S.

Reuters April 19, 2019 00:05:26 IST
Wall Street edges higher on industrial gains; healthcare drags again

Wall Street edges higher on industrial gains healthcare drags again

By Amy Caren Daniel and Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks eked out gains in volatile trading on Thursday, ahead of a long Easter weekend, as strong results from industrials countered another drop in healthcare stocks, with investors shrugging off release of the Mueller report.

In a bright spot, U.S. retail sales increased by the most in 1-1/2 years in March, while a labor department report showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped to its lowest in nearly 50 years last week, further underscoring the economy's strength.

Stocks have rallied from a slump late-last year, putting the benchmark S&P 500 index about 1% away from its closing record high hit in September.

"We have had a big run-up here on the belief that economic data would improve and it has come to fruition," said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co in Milwaukee.

Details of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election were released during the session and showed a series of incidents in which President Donald Trump took actions to impede the probe that raised questions of whether he committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

Mueller did not make a conclusion on whether Trump had committed obstruction of justice, but did not exonerate him either.

"I don't think there is much of a surprise, we'll see what comes out over the next few days and maybe we'll get more information," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Providing the biggest support to markets was a 1.09% rise in industrial stocks, after a batch of upbeat earnings reports.

Union Pacific Corp jumped 4.6%, while Honeywell International Inc's shares rose 3.4% after better-than-expected quarterly profits.

However, the healthcare sector fell for a third session in a row, now down 0.15%, plagued by ongoing concerns of tighter regulations.

At 12:48 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 116.37 points, or 0.44%, at 26,565.91. The S&P 500 was up 5.65 points, or 0.19%, at 2,906.10 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.97 points, or 0.01%, at 7,997.05.

Of the 77 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, about 78% have beaten earnings estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

Analysts now expect first-quarter profits for S&P 500 companies to have dropped 1.7% year-on-year, an improvement from recent estimates, but still the first earnings contraction since 2016.

Insurer Travelers Cos Inc rose 2.8%, and helped boost the Dow, after quarterly profit beat estimates.

Online scrapbook company Pinterest Inc surged 25% in debut, signaling increased investor appetite for new tech listings.

U.S. stock markets will be closed on Good Friday.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.05-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.11-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 32 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 36 new highs and 64 new lows.

(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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

Updated Date:


also read

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

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

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.