Healthcare, tech and trade hopes lead another US stock surge

Healthcare, tech and trade hopes lead another US stock surge

US stocks powered to their biggest gain in almost nine months as drugmakers and technology companies surged.

Investors were cheered that President Donald Trump appeared to take a more positive tone on international trade.

AbbVie boosted biotechnology companies with a strong fourth quarter and a greater annual profit forecast, while Pfizer and other drugmakers also made big gains.

Intel had its best day in almost nine years after its fourth-quarter results reassured investors that security flaws recently discovered in its processors are not damaging its sales.

Wynn Resorts tumbled following numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment by Steve Wynn, the casino operator’s chairman, chief executive and biggest shareholder.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Trump said leaders should prioritise their own countries, but that his administration is not opposed to international co-operation and that continued growth for the US economy is good for the rest of the world.

"He did talk about making sure trade deals are fair, but I just thought it was a completely different tone today," said JJ Kinahan, chief investment strategist for TD Ameritrade.

"I think the market really took a lot of positives away from that."

On Wednesday and Thursday, comments from Mr Trump as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross contributed to swings in stock prices and the dollar as investors tried to parse the remarks for indications of administration’s stances on the dollar and international trade.

The Commerce Department said the US economy grew 2.6% in the fourth quarter.

That was a bit less than analysts predicted but still a solid result, as Americans continued to shop and home construction increased.

The economy grew 2.3% in 2017 and experts think growth will speed up this year, partly because of the tax cut package signed into law in December.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 33.62 points, or 1.2%, to 2872.87, its biggest gain since March 1.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 223.92 points, or 0.8%, to 26616.71.

The Nasdaq composite rose 94.61 points, or 1.3%, to 7505.77.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 6.39 points, or 0.4%, to 1608.06.

Already at record highs, the S&P 500 is up 7.5% in January and on track for its largest monthly increase since October 2015.

Technology and industrial companies made hefty gains, as did Amazon and other retailers, and banks rose along with interest rates.

Those companies tend to benefit from more global trade and faster economic growth.

Many of them are helped by a weaker dollar, and the US currency declined again on Friday.

The weaker dollar raises costs for more US-focused companies such as those in the Russell 2000, which lagged other indexes today.

The CAC 40 in France jumped 0.9% while the German Dax gained 0.3%. The FTSE 100 in Britain rose 0.7%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2% and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.5%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 1.5%.

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