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US: Wall St ends up after economic data; S&P up for a 5th week


[NEW YORK] US stocks rose on Friday following upbeat economic data and gains in technology shares, pushing the Dow and the S&P 500 to a fifth straight week of gains.

Data showed US retail sales jumped in September, and the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index hit its highest since January 2004.

Another report showed consumer prices recorded their biggest increase in eight months as hurricanes Harvey and Irma boosted demand but underlying inflation remained muted.

Netflix shares closed 1.9 per cent higher after hitting an intraday record high at US$200.82 on a slew of price target increases ahead of its earnings report on Monday.

Apple, up 0.6 per cent, gave the S&P 500 its biggest boost, while the S&P technology index was up 0.5 per cent. Shares of big banks were mixed following reports from Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

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"We're seeing a continuation of the strength in the market combined with low volatility. There seems to be money searching for stocks and looking for investments, simply because the momentum is still positive," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

"Also we're entering a seasonal period where it's difficult to fight the tape. So I imagine there's cash coming in off the sidelines." The CBOE volatility index remains at historically depressed levels, closing at 9.61 on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 30.71 points, or 0.13 per cent, to end at 22,871.72, and the S&P 500 gained 2.24 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 2,553.17.

The Nasdaq Composite added 14.29 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 6,605.80, a record closing high.

For the week, the Dow was up 0.4 per cent and the S&P 500 was up 0.2 per cent. The Nasdaq rose 0.2 per cent for the week, registering a third week of gains.

Bank of America, the second-biggest US bank by assets, rose 1.5 per cent after the lender's profit topped estimates due to higher interest rates and a drop in costs.

But Wells Fargo tumbled 2.8 per cent after it reported lower-than-expected revenue for the fourth straight quarter due to a decline in mortgage banking revenue.

The reports from the Wall Street banks kicked off the third-quarter earnings season, with investors hoping profit growth will help justify valuations after a rally that has sent the S&P 500 up about 14 per cent so far this year.

Also limiting the day's gains, the healthcare sector was down 0.3 per cent as health insurers and hospital operators tumbled on news that President Donald Trump scrapped billions of dollars in Obamacare subsidies to private insurers for low-income Americans.

Centene sank 3.3 per cent, Molina Healthcare dropped 3.4 per cent and Anthem fell 3.1 per cent.

Tenet Healthcare dropped 5.1 per cent and Community Health System declined 4 per cent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.43-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.08-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

About 5.8 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges.

That compares with the 6.1 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.


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