January 9, 2018 / 6:26 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Wall St inches higher as healthcare, bank stocks gain

* Target joins retailers that recorded strong holiday sales

* Microsoft halts some AMD chip Meltdown patches after PCs freeze

* Indexes up: Dow 0.45 pct, S&P 0.26 pct, Nasdaq 0.16 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Sruthi Shankar

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s major indexes inched higher on Tuesday as financial, healthcare and industrial stocks extended the new year rally powered by expectations of strong quarterly earnings.

Stocks continued their winning streak in 2018 as investors remained hopeful about global economic growth and tax-cut led gains for corporate earnings in a low interest rate environment.

“So long as inflation remains at around these levels, it will certainly support the mutiples that we have,” said Tim Dreiling, regional investment director for The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank.

“We’ll watch inflation to see if that unexpectedly rises and could cause some concerns about earnings compression.”

After a lukewarm December jobs report, investors will look for fresh signs of pickup in inflation from the monthly consumer price data due on Friday.

At 12:29 a.m. ET (1729 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 113.05 points, or 0.45 percent, at 25,396.05 and the S&P 500 was up 7.16 points, or 0.26 percent, at 2,754.87.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 11.28 points, or 0.16 percent, at 7,168.66.

Fourth quarter earnings season is set to begin on Friday with big banks and will give investors more details on the impact of tax cuts on companies’ performance.

Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 11.8 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an 8 percent increase a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

A handful of retailers including Target, Kohl’s Corp and Lululemon Athletica have already reported solid rise in same-store sales for the holiday period and raised their profit forecasts for the fourth quarter.

Boeing jumped 2.4 percent, lifting the Dow the most, after the company said it delivered 763 jetliners in 2017, likely retaining the title of the world’s biggest plane maker.

A 2 percent rise in Johnson & Johnson and a 6.4 percent jump in Boston Scientific helped the S&P health sector gain 1.03 percent.

Bank of America and Goldman Sachs rose more than 1 percent, tracking a rise in U.S. 10-year Treasury yields, which hit a 10-month high after the Bank of Japan said it would trim its purchases of Japanese government bonds.

The interest-rate sensitive utilities and real estate fell about 0.9 percent.

Technology stocks were lower, led by Intel’s 1.8 percent drop. Performance of the systems running on the chipmaker’s processors decreased after Microsoft Corp released patches against security threats.

Advanced Micro Devices slipped 3.5 percent after Microsoft suspended patches for computers running AMD chipsets after complaints that the updates froze their machines.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,594 to 1,253. On the Nasdaq, 1,460 issues fell and 1,406 advanced.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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