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US stocks gain, digging out of 2016 rut after homes data

Wall Street ended the week higher and out of 2016-negative territory as markets were buoyed by stronger US housing data and brushed aside a mid-week shock that Fed rates may go up as soon as in June

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Existing housing sales data fares well

Wall Street ended the week higher and out of 2016-negative territory as markets were buoyed by stronger US housing data and brushed aside a mid-week shock that Fed rates may go up as soon as in June.

The bellwether S&P 500 index ended Friday up 0.68% at 2,053, while the S&P Midcap 400 was up 1.33% at 1,450 and the S&P Smallcap 600 was up 1.5% at 680. The wider small-cap Russell 2000 gained 1.6% to 1,112.

The housing data fuelled expectations that the world's biggest economy may be growing sufficiently well to weather any possible mid-year rate hike from the Federal Reserve.


Midsession

US stocks were higher at midsession on Friday as better housing data helped the broad S&P 500 ticker escape negative territory for 2016.

US sales of previously owned single-family homes rose in April to the highest level in three months. Existing home sales climbed to an annualised rate of 5.45mln units in April, from 5.36mln the month prior, the National Association of Realtors reported. Economists forecast a rate of 5.4mln units.

That helped perk up the outlook for the US economy and gave the S&P a chance to forget how it dropped into negative territory for 2016 on Thursday after Fed rate hike frenzy continued to grip markets.

The bellwhether S&P 500 was up 0.8% at 2,056, led by Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT), up 12.56% to $22.41, after the company bucked the trend for tech companies in China last quarter, leading it to better-than-expected quarterly results.

The S&P Midcap 400 was up a convincing 1.4% to 1,451 and led by Keysight Technologies  (NYSE:KEYS) up 15.6% at $30.05 a day after it released second quarter results.

The S&P Smallcap 600 was also up 1.4% at 680 and led by Stone Energy Corp (NYSE:SGY), up 27.6% to $0.37 a day after it announced the rescission of notice letters received from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Following receipt of the notice letters, Stone met with and proposed a tailored plan to BOEM for financial assurances relating to its abandonment obligations.

The US oil benchmark WTI was down 0.44% at $47.95.


Open

The S&P 500 raced ahead at the outset, despite some disappointing corporate updates and the oil price coming off the top.

Having popped its head above the $49 mark, the price of West Texas intermediate ebbed to $48.93, but was still up around half a percentage point on the day.

Results from the Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPX) were not to investors' tastes, resulting in the shares shedding 6%.

Sportswear seller Foot Locker Inc (NYSE:FL) got a kicking as its first quarter numbers also disappointed. The shares fell 6.7%.

Faring slightly less badly was industrial and agricultural machinery maker Deere & Company (NYSE:DE) after its fiscal second quarter update. Despite beating expectations with earnings and revenue, the shares tumbled 4.35 to $78.73.

The negative reactions to results from these blue-chips meant the top-shares index, the S&P 500, made less progress than indices that track smaller stocks.

The S&P 500 was up 0.7%, or 14 points, at 2,054, while the S&P 400, which focuses on medium caps, was up 1.1% (15 points) at 1,446 and the Russell 2,000, a gauge to the performance of small caps, was also up 1.1% (12 points) at 1,107.

InterOil Corporation (USA) (NYSE:IOC) saw its market value rise by a third to $2.1bn as Aussie peer launched a $2.2bn bid.

InterOil shares rose to $42.12 as the board succumbed to an offer worth $40.25 for each InterOil share.

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