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US: Stocks surge on Trump speech, Dow ends above 21,000

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[NEW YORK] US stocks powered to fresh records Wednesday, with the Dow topping 21,000 for the first time, after President Donald Trump struck a more conciliatory note in a major address Tuesday night.

All three major US equity indices smashed past highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average surging 1.5 per cent to end at 21,115.55.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.4 per cent to 2,395.96, and the tech-rich Nasdaq composite Index jumped 1.3 per cent to end at 5,904.03.

Mr Trump's address to Congress reiterated campaign themes on his aim to crack down on illegal immigration and adopt a tough negotiating style with trade partners. But he avoided much of the harsh language he has often employed, appearing more "presidential" in the words of some pundits.

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Investors took heart from the remarks that Mr Trump and Republicans in Congress would succeed in enacting major pro-growth policies, including a signficant tax cut that has been the source of much of the market's upward movement since election day.

"There's some hope that this will increase the potential for him to get through tax reforms and infrastructure spending and the other things the markets want to see," said Karl Haeling of Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Still, analysts noted Mr Trump's speech was short on details. A Federal Reserve report released Wednesday cited worries but businesses, including the auto and agriculture industries, about the possible negative effects of Mr Trump's agenda.

"The stock market is accounting for a very rose-coloured outlook that's allowing for tax reform that's not going to be negative," said Patrick O'Hare, an analyst at Briefing.com.

Large banks continued to score outsized stock price gains, boosted by optimism about Mr Trump's plan as well as hawkish commentary from Fed officials in recent days signalling a hike in interest rates could be imminent.

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo all jumped more than three per cent.

Lowe's Companies surged 9.5 per cent after reporting sharply higher profits in the fourth quarter and projecting comparable sales would grow by 3.5 per cent in 2017.

Cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks plummeted 24.2 per cent as its projections for third-quarter revenue and profit lagged Wall Street expectations.

Pharmaceutical company Mylan jumped 7.2 per cent after reporting that fourth-quarter net income more than doubled from the year-ago period to US$417.5 million.

AFP

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