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While you were sleeping: Netflix, Twitter, UnitedHealth lift Wall St

Wednesday 18th April 2018

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Wall Street rose amid better-than-expected results from companies including Netflix and UnitedHealth, bolstering optimism about the outlook for corporate profit growth and valuations. 

In 2.27pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.7 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rallied 1.6 percent. In 2.12pm trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 1 percent.

“Earnings in 2018 are going to look excellent if not even a bit better than excellent,” Stephen Wood, chief market strategist at Russell Investments, told Bloomberg. “Current headlines, they don’t seem to have lasting power and with a lot of policy issues, there’s a difference between initial statements and ultimate resolutions.”

The Dow rose as gains in shares of General Electric and those of UnitedHealth, recently up 3.5 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, outweighed slides in shares of Goldman Sachs and those of Johnson & Johnson, recently down 1.9 percent and 1.6 percent respectively.

Shares of UnitedHealth gained as the health insurance company reported results that exceeded expectations and upgraded its earnings outlook. 

"Results reflected continued strong growth across its diversified business lines, each of which saw a double-digit increase in earnings, offsetting any impact from flu and leading management to increase [2018] guidance," wrote Frank Morgan, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, in a note to investors, according to the Star Tribune. 

Shares of Netflix jumped, up 9.9 percent as of 2.48pm in New York, after the company gained more subscribers than analysts had forecast.  

Analysts expect profits of S&P 500 companies to rise 18.6 percent in the first quarter, the biggest increase in seven years, according to Reuters.

“Being able to surprise on the upside in the phase of higher expectations would be a real sign of strength,” Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Robert W Baird in Milwaukee, told Reuters. “Earnings so far have been good enough to help leave some of the pessimism that’s out there.” 

Meanwhile, shares of Twitter also jumped, up 11 percent as of 2.54pm in New York, after Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak upgraded the stock to an equal-weight, according to Bloomberg.

“Constructive advertiser conversations, improving user growth, and positive revisions make a more compelling risk/reward” for the stock, Nowak wrote in the note, Bloomberg reported. 

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.8 percent climb from the previous close. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index increased 0.4 percent, France’s CAC40 Index gained 0.8 percent, and Germany’s DAX Index rallied 1.6 percent.

Shares of Casino Guichard Perrachon rose as the French supermarket retailer posted first-quarter sales that allowed it to stick to its full-year outlook.

"Strong first quarter sales gives us comfort over the detailed guidance we gave in March," Chief Financial Officer Antoine Giscard d'Estaing told analysts, Reuters reported. 

The positive sales trend in France was expected to continue in the second quarter while economic trends were more favourable in Brazil, where food deflation would ease in the second half of the year, he said, according to Reuters. 

The stock closed 1.3 percent stronger in Paris.



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