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US: Stocks end higher; Macy's leads retailers down

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Wall Street stocks rose for a fifth straight session on Thursday, overcoming disappointing holiday sales from Macy's and other retailers following a day of choppy trade.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks rose for a fifth straight session on Thursday, overcoming disappointing holiday sales from Macy's and other retailers following a day of choppy trade.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.5 per cent at 24,000.76.

The broad-based S&P 500 also gained 0.5 per cent to 2,596.59, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.4 per cent to 6,986.07.

Stocks were pressured early after Macy's cut its profit forecast following a disappointing holiday shopping season. Macy's sank 17.7 per cent and other retailers also fell.

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After recovering, Wall Street again tumbled into negative territory after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told an afternoon Washington event that the Fed's large securities holdings should be "substantially smaller" than the current level of just under US$4 trillion.

But stocks again recovered after that, extending a rally spurred by dovish comments by Powell last Friday and prolonged by US-China talks that were seen as boosting the odds of a trade agreement.

Among retailers, Target fell 2.9 per cent after it reported a 5.7 per cent jump in comparable holiday sales but did not boost its profit forecasts.

Other retailers that fell included Best Buy, down 1.6 per cent, Gap, down 3.1 per cent and Williams-Sonoma, down 2.4 per cent. Walmart gained 0.1 per cent.

American Airlines shed 4.1 per cent as it cut its profit forecast range and some other key financial projections following the key holiday travel season.

Ford fell 0.5 per cent after announcing a major restructuring in Europe that will include job cuts and the phasing out of some car models that are not selling well.

AFP