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US: Stocks end higher despite weak oil shares

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - 05:54
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[NEW YORK] US stocks finished modestly higher Monday as gains in tech shares offset weakness in petroleum-linked equities following weak Chinese economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 14.57 points (0.08 per cent) to 17,230.54.

The broad-based S&P 500 edged up 0.55 (0.03 per cent) to 2,033.66, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 18.78 (0.38 per cent) at 4,905.47.

Petroleum-linked shares fell with oil prices after the Chinese government reported the weakest quarterly growth in more than six years. ExxonMobil was the Dow laggard, down 1.8 per cent, and Chevron shed 1.4 percent on the blue-chip index, while EOG Resources fell 3.1 per cent.

But tech shares were broadly higher, with larger gains for Netflix (+2.7 per cent) and Priceline (+3.0 per cent). Apple rose 0.6 per cent.

Morgan Stanley sank 4.8 per cent after third-quarter earnings came in at $740 million, dropping more than 50 per cent from the year-ago period on weak trading results.

Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International fell 7.7 per cent as it signaled it expects to dispose of a business associated with large drug price increases and foresees much more modest price hikes in the future.

United Continental, parent of United Airlines, rose 1.4 per cent after announcing it would outline more details about its corporate governance processes later in the day or Tuesday in light of the emergency hospitalization last week of new chief executive Oscar Munoz.

Shares of Weight Watchers International more than doubled to US$13.92 from US$6.79 on news of a partnership with much-admired US television talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who will take a 10 per cent stake in the struggling company and plans to "candidly share her experiences" employing its weight-management programs. Winfrey will also join the board of the company.

PMC-Sierra jumped 14.8 per cent after chipmaker Microsemi said it had offered to acquire the data storage and cloud computing company for about US$2.2 billion. Microsemi fell 5.4 per cent.

The Microsemi offer follows the October 5 announcement that PMC-Sierra reached a deal to be acquired by Skyworks Solutions for US$2 billion in cash. Skyworks fell 2.2 per cent.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury dropped to 2.02 per cent from 2.03 per cent Friday, while the 30-year held steady at 2.88 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

AFP