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US: Wall Street hits record highs on strong retail results

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 23:13

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[BENGALURU] US stocks opened at record-highs on Tuesday as oil prices rose and investors cheered strong results of top US retailers.

Wal-Mart's shares provided the biggest boost to the Dow, rising more than 3 per cent after the company reported better-than-expected quarterly comparable store sales.

Department store bellwether Macy's and home improvement chain Home Depot rose after the companies posted profits that topped estimates. Home Depot also set a US$15 billion buyback plan.

Sentiment was boosted by a more than 1.5 per cent rise in oil prices, after Opec said the group was hopeful of higher compliance with its deal to cut production.

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The S&P 500 energy sector jumped 0.75 per cent, led by gains in Schlumberger and Chevron.

Strong earnings, robust economic data and the possibility of fiscal stimulus under President Donald Trump has lifted Wall Street's main indexes to record highs in the past months.

The US dollar rose 0.58 per cent after Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said on Sunday that she would be comfortable raising rates if the US economy kept performing. Gold prices fell 0.74 per cent.

Investors will keep an eye on comments from three Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday for insight into the timing of the next interest rate hike.

While some Fed officials have said a rate hike should come sooner than later, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said the US labour market had "more room to run" suggesting he does not believe the central bank should raise rates quickly.

At 9.38 am ET (1438 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 66.87 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 20,690.92, the S&P 500 was up 6.72 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 2,357.88 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 16.81 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 5,855.39.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, while the traditionally defensive plays - real estate and utilities - the outliers.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen jumped 19 per cent to US$78.80 after Restaurant Brands agreed to acquire the quick-service restaurant chain for US$1.8 billion.

Kraft Heinz shares were the top drag on the S&P, falling 3.7 per cent after the company walked away from its US$143 billion offer to buy Unilever, a day after the Anglo-Dutch company rejected the proposal. Unilever's US-listed shares were down 8.2 per cent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,828 to 840. On the Nasdaq, 1,624 issues rose and 789 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 53 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 130 new highs and eight new lows.

REUTERS

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