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US: Wall St climbs after retail sales data; healthcare up


[NEW YORK] US stocks climbed on Thursday as retail sales data lifted the outlook for consumer spending and as healthcare shares gained.

Shares of Eli Lilly, Gilead and other healthcare stocks gave the S&P 500 its biggest boost, while the S&P 500 healthcare index gained 0.5 per cent and was among the day's best-performing sectors.

Eli Lilly hit a 14-year high, closing up 4.1 per cent at US$86.59, with investors anticipating data from an extended trial of an experimental Alzheimer's drug that could become available to doctors in the coming weeks. The stock is up 10.3 per cent since Monday's close. Gilead rose 1.2 per cent to US$119.13.

S&P utilities rose 0.7 per cent, the day's strongest sector, as US bond yields retreated. Utilities and other dividend payers tend to compete with bonds for investment money.

US retail sales increased 1.2 per cent in May, more than expected, as households boosted purchases of automobiles and a range of other goods even as they paid a bit more for gasoline.

The S&P retail index was up 0.2 per cent. "You had good retail sales today and slightly above expectations. Remember how weak retail sales were in the winter, so you would expect a bounceback here," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 38.97 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 18,039.37, the S&P 500 gained 3.66 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 2,108.86, and the Nasdaq Composite added 5.82 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 5,082.51.

Solid retail sales data followed robust May job growth numbers and stabilizing manufacturing activity, suggesting the economy is gaining momentum after a slow start in the second quarter.

The market stayed cautious over Greece. The International Monetary Fund said its delegation had halted negotiations in Brussels and flown home because of differences with Athens.

Citrix Systems rose 6.7 per cent to US$70.39 after shareholder Elliott Management said the software maker should sell some units, cut costs and buy back shares.

Krispy Kreme soared 13.9 per cent to US$19.81. The doughnut chain raised the bottom end of its 2016 profit forecast.

Hess rose 4.9 per cent to US$68.83. The oil and natural gas producer said it would sell half of its Bakken midstream assets to a private equity firm for US$2.68 billion.

After the bell, shares of Twitter rose 5.6 per cent as it said CEO Dick Costolo is stepping down. Mr Costolo was under pressure from investors frustrated by the Internet company's slow growth and management shakeups.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,866 to 1,204, for a 1.55-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,403 issues rose and 1,348 fell for a 1.04-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 31 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 118 new highs and 27 new lows.

About 5.8 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, below the 6.1 billion daily average for June so far, according to BATS Global Markets.