Strong earnings lift investor spirits after Trump slump

19 May, 2017

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U.S. stocks rallied on Friday as a set of strong corporate earnings lifted investor spirits in a week dominated by uncertainty surrounding Donald Trump’s presidency.

However, Wall Street’s major indexes were on track for their worst weekly declines since mid-April following reports that Trump had tried to interfere in a federal investigation.

Investors were concerned that the uncertainty in Washington could hinder Trump’s promise of fiscal stimulus, a bet on which Wall Street has rallied to record highs.

Strong quarterly earnings from companies, including Autodesk (ADSK.O) and Deere & Co (DE.N), boosted the market. Autodesk was among the biggest percentage gainers on the S&P and the Nasdaq after the software maker reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue.

Deere hit an all-time high of $122.24 after the farm and construction equipment maker reported a quarterly profit that beat expectations.

The news lifted Caterpillar’s (CAT.N) shares by 2.5 percent, making it the top stock on the Dow.

“We think the Trump trade and the reflation trade have unwound almost entirely post election, and the market is relying on recovery in earnings and strong fundamentals,” said Matt Jones, U.S. head of equity strategy, J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

Of the 452 S&P 500 companies that have released results so far, about 75 percent have topped earnings expectations. In a typical quarter, about 64 percent beat estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“You (also) didn’t have a lot of news out of Washington, which is helping calm some of the anxiety,” Jones said.

At 12:53 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 172.09 points, or 0.83 percent, at 20,835.11, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 21.68 points, or 0.91 percent, at 2,387.4 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 49.56 points, or 0.82 percent, at 6,104.69.

All three indexes were on track to post their biggest daily percentage gains for the month.

All the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with industrials .SPLRCI, materials .SPLRCM and energy .SPNY gaining more than 1 percent.

Oil rose more than 2 percent, helping energy shares, amid talks of an extension to the supply limit deal among OPEC members.

Wal-Mart (WMT.N) was up 1.8 percent at $78.95 after BMO upgraded the big-box retailer’s stock to “market perform” from “underperform” following higher-than-expected quarterly sales at established U.S. stores.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,321 to 537. On the Nasdaq, 1,910 issues rose and 881 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 21 new 52-week highs and eight new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 68 new highs and 46 new lows.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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