December 19, 2014
Wall Street rises; Internet, biotech names lift Nasdaq
US stocks rose today, with a rally in high-growth names among Internet and biotech shares giving the Nasdaq a gain of almost 1 percent.
Equities have been pressured recently, with the S&P 500 coming off its first two-week decline since January as investors have become concerned about the economy's growth prospects.
"The listlessness in the market shows the struggle investors are having right now: Valuations are full but not stretched, and there's a lack of decisive evidence that the economy will kick into higher growth and justify these valuations," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.
The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 20.55 points, or 0.12 percent, to end at 16,511.86. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 7.22 points, or 0.38 percent, to finish at 1,885.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index shot up 35.23 points, or 0.86 percent, to close at 4,125.82.
European equities were pulled downby the pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca, which slumped after rejecting a bid from Pfizer, and by Deutsche Bank's announcement of a capital increase.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which last week hit a 6-year high of 1,372.81 points, closed down 0.2 percent at 1,358.91 points. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also fell 0.1 percent to 3,169.90 points.
AstraZeneca's shares dropped 11.1 percent to take the most points off the FTSEurofirst 300, after the British company rejected a sweetened "final" cash-and-stock offer from Pfizer, casting doubt on the US drugmaker's plan to create the world's biggest pharmaceuticals group.
"Despite Pfizer having spent a large amount of money and time, the signal seems clear from AstraZeneca's board of directors, UK politicians and mainstream media that this is a bad deal, and we see limited efforts from Pfizer going forward," said Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank.
"Its shareholders will not appreciate a fourth attempt as it will inflate the valuation too much, relative to deal risk," he added.
Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei share average dropped today, extending losses from Friday as a stronger yen made investors risk averse, while sentiment was also hurt by weak China shares on concerns about slower growth in the world's second-biggest economy.
The Nikkei ended 0.6 percent lower at 14,006.44.
The broader Topix declined 0.8 percent to 1,150.07, while the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 slipped 0.7 percent to 10,491.39.