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Feb 15, 2018

Wall Street climbs higher as inflation worries ease; TSX rises

BNN's closing bell update: Feb. 15, 2018

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Wall Street surged on Thursday to notch its fifth straight session of gains, led by Apple and other technology stocks as investors shrugged off recent inflation worries that sent the market into a sell-off at the start of the month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 306.88 points, or 1.23 per cent, to 25,200.37, the S&P 500 gained 32.57 points, or 1.21 per cent, to 2,731.2 and the Nasdaq Composite added 112.82 points, or 1.58 per cent, to 7,256.43

Canada's main stock index rose on Thursday as gains in the financial sector and shares of TransCanada Corp offset a decline in natural resource companies.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended up 79.39 points, or 0.52 per cent, at 15,407.66.

U.S. MARKETS    

Apple Inc (AAPL.O)  jumped 3.36 per cent and contributed more than any other stock to gains on the S&P 500 after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) made the iPhone maker its top investment.

Markets were able to shake off economic data for a second consecutive session that indicated inflation pressures were building while weekly jobless claims data on Thursday pointed to a tightening labor market.

Investors instead focused on recent strong quarterly earnings and expectations that more earnings growth is still to come, thanks to newly-implemented corporate and personal tax cuts.

"In the midst of all the nervousness of the past two weeks, we're winding out a really strong earnings reporting season," said Leo Grohowski, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management in New York.

"There were a lot eyes fixating on the PPI number this morning, it came in a little hot. But much like yesterday, the market's shaking it off."

Following many forecast increases by corporations in recent weeks, analysts on average now expect S&P 500 companies to increase their earnings per share in 2018 by 18.9 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Cisco (CSCO.O) surged 4.73 per cent following upbeat results and a strong forecast, as the network gear maker's years-long efforts to transform into a software-focused company began to pay off.

Wall Street investors were not alone in their optimism. Bullish sentiment among individual investors hit its highest level since mid-January in the American Association of Individual Investors' weekly survey.

Energy was the only major S&P 500 sector index to fall, pulled down 0.42 per cent by weaker oil prices.

U.S. Treasury yields slipped as investors took a breather from selling bonds and readjusted positions to prepare for more inflation-related volatility, a scenario that could take yields even higher.

Fears of inflation and higher interest rates had sent the S&P 500 sharply lower at the start of February. In the past five sessions, the S&P 500 has gained 5.6 per cent, and it remains down 4.9 per cent from a Jan 26 record high.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.27-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.25-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.12 billion shares, below the 8.46 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

CANADIAN MARKETS

Investors were taking in a slew of Canadian corporate earnings, while global markets rose. 

TransCanada (TRP.TO) was the biggest lift on the index, climbing 5.0 per cent to $56.33 after it reported strong fourth-quarter profit and said it would go ahead with the expansion of its NGTL natural gas system.

The financials group also helped support the market, gaining 0.4 per cent as Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) rose 0.7 per cent to $72.81, while Brookfield Asset Management (BAMa.TO) was up 2.2 per cent at $49.43.

Bombardier (BBDb.TO) jumped 11.3 per cent to $3.66 following better-than-expected results and as Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) said it would go ahead with plans to buy some Canadian-made CSeries jets after a U.S. trade ruling stopped the United States from imposing steep duties on the aircraft.

Canadian Tire Corp (CTCa.TO) climbed 6.6 per cent to $174.48 after the retailer reported better-than-expected quarterly profit amid an early winter in some parts of the country.

On the downside, Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) shed 3.0 per cent to $16.62 after the world's biggest gold producer, forecast an output drop over the next four years.

Barrick helped weigh on the materials sector, which retreated 0.4 percent.

Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) dropped 5.3 percent to $9.36 after the company said it was looking to sell assets in Western Canada's Deep Basin.

The stock weighed on the energy sector, which lost 0.9 per cent.

The TSX posted 12 new 52-week highs and 10 new lows. Volume on the index was 248.75 million shares

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