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Friday, October 24, 2014

Wall Street boosted by earnings, S&P posts best week in nearly two years

US stocks closed out their best week in nearly two years today, helped by earnings from Microsoft and Procter & Gamble and as concerns eased over the possible spread of Ebola in the United States.

The S&P 500 was up 5.5 percent from its low on Oct. 15 and had its best weekly gain in nearly two years, boosted by solid corporate earnings reports.

News of the first case of Ebola diagnosed in New York City hit futures late on Thursday, but the markets shook off those concerns. A doctor being treated for Ebola in a New York City hospital is in stable condition, the city's health commissioner said, while the World Health Organization set out plans for speeding up development and deployment of experimental Ebola vaccines.

Shares of Microsoft rose 2.5 percent to $46.13, after the company reported higher-than-expected quarterly revenue while keeping profit margins largely intact.

Fellow Dow component Procter & Gamble gained 2.3 percent to $85.16. The world's largest household products maker said it would split off its Duracell battery business into a separate company.

On the downside, Amazon plunged 8.3 percent to $287.06 and was the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 after the online retailer's sales projections for the crucial holiday quarter disappointed Wall Street and third-quarter results missed forecasts.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 127.51 points, or 0.76 percent, to 16,805.41, the S&P 500 gained 13.76 points, or 0.71 percent, to 1,964.58 and the Nasdaq Composite added 30.92 points, or 0.69 percent, to 4,483.72.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,905 to 1,150, for a 1.66-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,501 issues rose and 1,151 fell for a 1.30-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 38 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 50 new highs and 48 new lows.

About 5.3 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, well below the 8.1 billion October average, according to BATS Global Markets.

In Europe, shares in luxury goods group Kering and chemicals company BASF fell after business updates, while new worries about the Ebola virus weighed on European stock markets.

Kering fell 4.6 percent, making it the worst-performing stock on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index after sales fell at its Gucci brand.

Chemicals company BASF also declined by 3.3 percent after cutting its 2015 earnings forecast on weak demand in its European home markets.

The declines in the two companies, coupled with new worries over Ebola, contributed to push down the FTSEurofirst 300 by 0.3 percent to 1,313.21 points going into the close of trading.

The latest Ebola concerns arose after news about the first person to test positive for the virus in the US financial hub.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index has rebounded slightly this week to put it on course for its best week since December 2013.

Nevertheless, many investors have continued slashing exposure to European equities, which have been knocked back over the last month by weak European economic data.

US-based funds invested in European shares saw outflows for a third straight week, according to Lipper data.

Meanwhile, Japanese shares rose to a two-week high as the weaker yen lifted exporters, while renewed fears about the spread of the Ebola virus in the United States bolstered Ebola-related stocks such as Fujifilm Holdings Corp.

The Nikkei share average ended 1.0 percent higher to 15,291.64, the best closing level since Oct 10. For the week, the index gained 5.2 percent.

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Tags:  US  stock market  Europe  Nikkei  





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