NEW YORK: Wall Street’s major indexes are higher on their first trading session of 2018, driven by gains in technology and consumer discretionary stocks, setting the stage for another robust year for equities.
Major stock indexes closed out 2017 with their best performances since 2013 and the rally is widely expected to continue in 2018, helped by a cut in US corporate taxes that is anticipated to boost profits as well as the economy.
Gains in Apple, Facebook, Alphabet and Microsoft pulled the technology index higher by about 1 per cent, following a 37 per cent surge in 2017 that made it the best performing S&P sector. The S&P consumer discretionary index was up 1.35 per cent, boosted by a 1.4 per cent gain in Amazon and a 3 per cent increase in Walt Disney.
Disney, Netflix and Discovery Communications climbed following brokerage Macquire’s upgrade to “outperform”. J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and Kohl’s climbed after a bullish note on the retail sector by Citigroup detailed the benefits from the corporate tax cuts.
In late afternoon trade (1522 EST/0724 Wednesday AEDT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.29 per cent, at 24,791.53 and the S&P 500 was up 0.65 per cent, at 2,691.12. The Nasdaq Composite was up 1.33 per cent, at 6,995.00.
LONDON: European stocks faltered on its first trading day in the new year as autos stocks fell and strength in the euro weighed, while trading was cautious ahead of the launch of a major reform of European Union financial markets.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index dipped 0.2 per cent, as did euro zone stocks, with Germany’s DAX down 0.36 per cent at 12,871.39.
Autos stocks were 0.1 per cent lower, dented by weaker car registrations data.
New car sales in France fell 0.51 per cent in December and the share of new diesel cars dipped below 50 per cent for the first time since 2000.
A trader also pointed to a report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph citing forecasts that UK car registrations data, due out on Friday, would show a 5 per cent decline in new car sales.
Britain’s top share index fell back from a record high, with US dollar-earning exporters hit hardest as sterling rose.
Britain’s FTSE index ended the session 0.52 per cent lower at 7,648.10 points, slightly underperforming European peers.
TOKYO: Asian stocks mainly began the new year close to their highest in a decade.
Sentiment was helped by news that North Korea had offered an olive branch to South Korea, with Kim Jong Un saying he was “open to dialogue” with Seoul.
Yet activity was sparse, with Japan on holiday and many investors on an extended break.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.99 per cent firmer after rising by one-third in value 2017 to heights last visited in 2007.
Hong Kong stocks rose the most in three months to a decade-high, led by mainland companies listed in the city, after Beijing kicked off H-share convertibility reform.
The market was also aided by China’s stronger-than-expected factory activity, as well as strong property sales performance during the last week of 2017.
The Hang Seng index closed up 1.99 per cent at 30,515.31.
China’s main Shanghai Composite index closed up 1.24 per cent at 3,348.33 points while its blue-chip CSI300 index ended up 1.40 per cent at 4,087.40.