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US: Wall Street gains as upbeat earnings trump trade jitters
[NEW YORK] US stocks advanced on Friday as upbeat earnings helped investors shrug off heightened trade anxieties and weaker-than-expected July jobs growth.
For the week, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained ground, up 0.8 per cent and one per cent, respectively, while the Dow was essentially flat. The S&P 500 notched its fifth straight weekly gain, its longest such streak of the year.
The second-quarter reporting season nears its final stretch with 406 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported, 78.6 percent of which came in above Street estimates, according to Thomson Reuters data.
China launched its latest salvo in the ongoing trade spat, unveiling new tariffs on 5,207 goods imported from the United States, including liquefied natural gas (LNG) and some aircraft.
Earlier this week, Chinese officials promised retribution after the Trump administration proposed hiking tariffs to 25 per cent on $200 billion worth of goods imported from China.
A report from the Labor Department showed the US economy added 157,000 jobs in July, fewer than the 190,000 economists expected, though the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 per cent.
Other data showed the US trade deficit surged 7.3 per cent in June to US$46.3 billion, its biggest increase since November 2016. The politically sensitive trade gap with China widened by 0.9 per cent to US$33.5 billion.
"We have the trade numbers and we have the continuation of the ongoing trade war with China, which is not a good thing, obviously," said Michael Geraghty, equity strategist at Cornerstone Capital Group.
"Some of the benefits of the tax cut will be wearing off, in addition we have this trade skirmish, so in my opinion investors will be quite skittish in the second half of the year," Mr Geraghty added.
Shares of Apple rose modestly a day after becoming the first publicly-traded US company to reach US$1 trillion in market value.
The S&P consumer staples sector rose 1.2 per cent. Its advance was led by Kraft Heinz, up 8.6 per cent after the packaged foods company topped quarterly profit and revenue estimates.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 136.42 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 25,462.58, the S&P 500 gained 13.13 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 2,840.35 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.33 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 7,812.02.
Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, energy was the sole percentage loser. Oil prices gave up gains from the previous session, weighed upon by concerns about trade and demand for crude, while hedge funds and other money managers cut their bullish crude bets this week.
Shares of Dish Network Corp jumped 14.5 per cent following its better-than-expected quarterly earnings report.
Executives for American International Group Inc tried to downplay weak earnings and promised a turnaround, but the insurer's shares dipped 2.7 per cent.
Cyber security firm Symantec Corp was among the biggest percentage losers on the S&P, dropping 7.8 per cent after announcing a workforce reduction and lowering its yearly revenue forecast.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.51-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.41-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 22 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 73 new highs and 70 new lows.
Volume on US exchanges was 5.96 billion shares, compared with the 6.29 billion-share average over the last 20 trading days.