Tech and high-growth stocks take US indexes higher

Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2019 By Damian J. Troise And Marley Jay, AP Business Writers


A woman walks past an electronic board showing Hong Kong share index outside a local bank in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019. Asian markets edged higher on Wednesday but trading was subdued with poor Japanese trade data and a possible bump in U.S-China talks. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are climbing Friday and technology companies and consumer-focused companies were leading the gains. Optimism over economic growth is boosting industrial and energy companies, along with banks and makers of basic materials.

Markets didn't react much to news that President Donald Trump and congressional leaders reached a deal to reopen the federal government for three weeks while talks continue over Trump's demands for money to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 22 points, or 0.9 percent to 2,664 as of 3:15 p.m. Eastern time, but the index is still on track for a small loss this week after big gains in the past four. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 179 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,732. The Nasdaq composite rose 87 points, or 1.2 percent, to 7,160. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 18 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,483.

TECH UPDATE: Hard drive maker Western Digital jumped 7.3 percent to $43.05 after the company said it expects business to improve in the second half of its fiscal year. That overshadowed a weaker-than-expected second quarter. Competitor Seagate Technology also gained 6.1 percent to $43.47.

Other tech stocks climbed. Apple rose 3.2 percent to $157.54.

Those gains outweighed disappointing quarterly results and a weak outlook from the world's largest chipmaker, Intel. The company is also still without a permanent CEO, following Brian Krzanich's resignation in June. Shares fell 6.1 percent to $46.71.

UP AGAINST THE WALL: Yielding to mounting pressure, President Donald Trump and congressional leaders on Friday reached a short-term deal to reopen the government for three weeks. Trump announced the agreement to break the 35-day impasse as delays at airports and widespread disruptions brought new urgency to efforts to end the standoff. He almost immediately threatened another shutdown or emergency action if he does not get "fair deal."

The shutdown started when the stock market was at its low point in December, so the S&P 500 rose 10 percent during the shutdown. Some experts feel that the shutdown's effects on the market and the economy will prove to be limited, with government employees resuming their spending as soon as they get repaid.

But Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist for Invesco, said the magnitude of the shutdown might have major effects on consumers' confidence.

"If the government can't work together in times where there are no real crises, imagine what would happen in an environment where there was a real crisis," she said. "It's hard to envisage Congress and the executive branch putting their differences aside and working together."

She added that the government's dysfunction might contribute to the U.S.' credit being downgraded, and if that happens, investors are likely to flee the stock market and pour money into the bond market, as they did when the country's credit rating was cut in 2011.

CAFFEINE RUSH: Starbucks shares jumped 3.4 percent to $66.92 after the company reported revenue and profit growth with the help of a strong holiday season. The results topped expectations and the company gave an upbeat outlook for the year. Other consumer-focused companies also moved higher. Amazon added 1 percent to $1,671.

FED CAUTION: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Federal Reserve might soon halt the shrinking of its bond portfolio. The Fed bought trillions of dollars in bonds following the recession in 2008 to help keep interest rates low and aid an economic recovery. It started gradually letting its portfolio shrink recently, but investors are concerned that will tighten credit conditions, which could slow economic growth.

"Although the economic data are pretty solid right now, the markets have basically told us that we are not tolerating additional tightening," said Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

BONDS: Bond prices also fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.75 percent from 2.71 percent.

TAKEN ILL: Abbvie fell 6.3 percent to $80.41 after the company said international sales of its drug Humira weakened in response to growing competition in key markets including Europe. AbbVie gets most of its revenue from Humira, which is the top-selling prescription medication in the world in terms of revenue.

Cowen & Co. analyst Steve Scala said Humira sales outside the U.S. were worse than expected.

Health care stocks, especially drugmakers, stumbled this week. That contributed to the market's struggles over the past few days.

OVERSEAS: France's CAC 40 rose 1.1 percent, while Germany's DAX gained 1.4 percent as both indexes finished the week with solid gains. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent and finished the week down 2.3 percent. The country is moving closer to leaving the European Union without a trade deal, meaning Britain still faces tariffs and economic turmoil if its situation doesn't change before March 29.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1 percent, South Korea's Kospi surged 1.5 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.6 percent.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil rose 1.1 percent to settle at $53.69 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 0.9 percent to $61.64 in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.64 yen from 109.53 yen. The euro rose to $1.1414 from $1.1389.

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