Wall Street extends rally as chipmakers rebound

Wall Street extends rally as chipmakers rebound

NEW YORK,. Wall Street rallied for a fourth session yesterday, propelled by Apple, chipmakers and other trade-sensitive stocks after signs of progress in trade talks between the United States and China.

The benchmark S&P 500, now in its longest daily winning streak in nearly four months, is up about 10 per cent from a 20-month low it touched around Christmas, lifted by hopes for a deal between the world’s two largest economies, which eased some worries over the impact of the trade spat on global growth.

Market participants were also encouraged by strong US jobs data and recent indications the US Federal Reserve is in no rush to raise interest rates.

The Fed released minutes showing a range of policymakers said in December they could be patient about future interest rate increases and that a few did not support the central bank’s rate increase that month.

China pledged to purchase “a substantial amount” of agricultural, energy and manufactured goods and services from the United States, the US Trade Representative’s office said, as talks wrapped up in Beijing.

The S&P technology index rose 1.50 per cent, with Apple Inc up 1.70 per cent despite a Nikkei report that the company had reduced planned production for its three new iPhone models for the January-March quarter.

The company’s shares tumbled about 10 per cent last week after it warned on holiday quarter sales. Its suppliers, which largely include chipmakers, took another beating on Tuesday after Samsung Electronics flagged weak chip demand.

The Philadelphia Semiconductor index gained 2.52 per cent. Chipmakers are among the US multinationals with the highest revenue exposure to China.

“If you want to gauge how investors are viewing the trade talks, just watch tech, and semiconductors in particular,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors in Chicago.

Shares of Boeing Co, which also has a large exposure to China, climbed 0.97 per cent, with the S&P industrial index gaining 0.63 per cent.

The energy index led other sectors with a 1.50 per cent jump, helped by oil prices at their highest levels in nearly a month.

The CBOE Volatility index, often referred to as an investor fear gauge, dropped half-a-point to a one-month low of 19.85.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.39 per cent to finish at 23,879.12 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.41 per cent to 2,584.96. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.87 per cent to 6,957.08.

Financial stocks rose 0.52 per cent, with Citigroup climbing 2 per cent.

Echoing the Fed minutes released yesterday, many policymakers said they could wait on any further interest rate hikes until they had a better handle on whether growing risks will undercut an otherwise solid US economic outlook.

“A more stable Fed is going to lead to more stable markets over time,” said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

“Some of the sharp moves in the market were driven by the fact that Fed tightening is starting to have an impact on economic growth and financial conditions.”

For the S&P, yesterday’s advance marked the benchmark index’s longest streak of gains since mid-September, just before it started retreating from its record high.

Shares in Constellation Brands Inc sank 12.42 per cent, dragging down the consumer staples index, after the Corona brewer cut its fiscal 2019 profit outlook.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.28-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.91-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 27 new highs and five new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 8.0 billion shares, compared with the 9.0 billion-share average over the last 20 trading days. — Reuters