January 20, 2018
Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wall Street has best 2-day gain since 2011 on Fed optimism

The S&P 500 closed out its biggest two-day advance since November 2011, extending a Federal Reserve-fueled rally from the previous session, while tech shares jumped after Oracle results.

The Dow industrials recorded the best one-day percentage gain since December 2011. The S&P 500 posted its biggest daily percentage gain since January 2013 and is up 4.5 percent in the last two sessions.

Equities' rally followed the Fed's upbeat assessment of the US economy on Wednesday and a commitment to take a "patient" approach toward raising interest rates.

A 3-percent jump in the technology sector also helped Thursday's advance. Oracle Corp jumped 10.2 percent to $45.35, a day after quarterly results topped Wall Street expectations. Shares of Apple climbed 3 percent to $112.65.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 421.28 points, or 2.43 percent, to 17,778.15, the S&P 500 gained 48.34 points, or 2.4 percent, to 2,061.23 and the Nasdaq Composite added 104.08 points, or 2.24 percent, to 4,748.40.

US crude fell 4.2 percent, but the S&P Energy sector ended up 2.1 percent.

The S&P 500 had fallen nearly 5 percent from its most recent record high on Dec. 5 before the strong gains on Wednesday and Thursday.

Earlier in the session, data showed weekly jobless claims fell more than expected, suggesting the labor market continues to strengthen. However, readings on the US services sector and mid-Atlantic factory activity indicated a slower pace of growth.

Rite Aid shares surged 11.9 percent to $6.78 after the drugstore chain's quarterly results topped expectations and it boosted its 2015 outlook.

About 8.7 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, above the 7.5 billion average this month, according to BATS Global Markets.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 2,522 to 589, for a 4.28-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 2,093 issues rose and 655 fell, for a 3.20-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

In Europe, stocks surged with the market supported by a rise in Greek shares after the leader of the main opposition party said he was committed to keeping Greece in the euro should his leftist party take power next year.

A tentative rebound in oil, a dovish statement from the Federal Reserve and relative calm in Russian markets helped spur European shares to their strongest daily gain in three years.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed up 3 percent at 1,356.23 points, its biggest percentage rise since November 2011, extending gains after Greek stocks reversed an early fall.

The Athens Composite Index erased earlier losses to trade 1.5 percent higher after the leader of Greece's radical leftist party Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, told reporters he wanted a negotiated debt relief solution with the European Union and to keep the country in the euro currency bloc.

Greek markets have been knocked by the prospect of a general election if parliament fails to elect a new president by the end of the year, with the prospect of a Syriza victory in a popular vote raising questions over the country's EU membership.

A poll on Wednesday showing that Syriza had extended its lead over the government party helped push the local equity index as much as 3 percent lower in early trade.

Oil companies benefited from a short-lived rise in oil prices, as Brent crude jumped to $63 percent per barrel before falling back after European markets had closed.

Meanwhile, Japanese stocks enjoyed their best day in 6-1/2 weeks today after the US Federal Reserve expressed confidence in the US economy and promised a "patient" approach to raising interest rates, boosting Wall Street shares.

The Nikkei benchmark climbed 2.3 percent to 17,210.05, its biggest daily jump since November 4.

Exporters Toyota Motor Co and Canon Inc climbed 1.5 percent and 1.7 percent respectively, benefitting from a weaker yen.

The broader Topix gained 1.8 percent to close at 1,376.32, while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 also added 1.8 percent to 12,482.00.

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Tags:  Stocks  shares  FTSEurofirst  Nikkei  US  Dow Jones  

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