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US: S&P 500 at five-month high, but banks weigh after results


[NEW YORK] US stocks rose slightly on Friday, putting the S&P 500 at its highest closing level in more than five months, as gains in industrials and other areas offset a drop in financials after results from three of the big banks mostly disappointed.

The industrial sector gained 0.6 per cent, with Boeing Co, Caterpillar Inc and 3M Co all rose in the absence of any trade rhetoric overnight.

Investors were optimistic ahead of what is expected to be a strong second-quarter US earnings season, although reports on Friday from three of the biggest Wall Street banks failed to enthuse. "In spite of the disappointment from the financials, which have been and continue to be a laggard ... there's still relative strength," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

Earnings "expectations are certainly elevated from where they were a month ago, but if companies do deliver in general, the market as a whole will continue to move higher," he said.

Citigroup Inc slid 2.2 per cent, the most among financials, after its revenue fell short of estimates due to lower debt underwriting. Wells Fargo & Co dipped 1.2 per cent after its profit fell more than expected as lending slowed and costs rose.

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JPMorgan Chase & Co shares were down 0.5 per cent although the bank's profit beat estimates. The financial index fell 0.5 per cent.

The CBOE Volatility Index closed at its lowest level since June 15.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 94.52 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 25,019.41, the S&P 500 gained 3.02 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 2,801.31 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.06 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7,825.98.

The S&P 500 posted its highest closing level since Feb 1. The index is now just 2.5 per cent from its Jan 26 record closing high and up 4.8 per cent for the year so far.

Investors are expected to keep a close eye on trade talk between the United States and China. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the United States and China could reopen trade talks if Beijing was willing to make significant changes.

Netflix Inc sank 4.3 per cent after Deutsche Bank warned the company could fall short of subscriber growth numbers when it reports results on Monday.

Johnson & Johnson dropped 1.4 per cent after a jury ordered it to pay a record US$4.69 billion to 22 women who alleged its talc-based products contain asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

AT&T Inc's shares fell 1.7 per cent on the US Justice Department's plan to appeal a federal judge's approval of the company's already closed US$85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.01-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.22-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 38 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 93 new highs and 40 new lows.

Trading volume was among the lowest of the year, with about 5.3 billion shares changing hands on US exchanges. That compares with the 6.6 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.


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