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While you were sleeping: GM, Ford stocks rally

Thursday 5th January 2017

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Shares of US car makers including General Motors climbed as their latest monthly sales beat expectations, bolstering optimism about the outlook.

Shares of General Motors rallied, trading 5.3 percent stronger as of 1.17pm in New York, as the country’s top carmaker posted better-than-expected sales for December. Its rivals surprised too. Shares of Ford Motor traded 5.2 percent higher.

“Key economic indicators, especially consumer confidence, continue to reflect optimism about the US economy and strong customer demand continues to drive a very healthy US auto industry,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist, Bloomberg reported. “We believe the US auto industry remains well-positioned for sales to continue at or near record levels in 2017.”

Wall Street moved higher. In 1.18pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.8 percent. In 1.03pm trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 0.5 percent. 

Investors were awaiting the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s December meeting for any fresh clues about the pace of interest rate increases this year.

Reflecting expectations of stronger growth and inflation, the rate banks charge each other to borrow US dollars for three months rose above 1 percent for the first time since May 2009, according to Reuters. The London interbank offered rate, or LIBOR, for three-month dollars was fixed at 1.00511 percent.

In the Dow, gains in shares of Nike and those of Walt Disney, recently trading 1.7 percent and 1.2 percent higher respectively, outweighed declines in shares of Exxon Mobil and those of Microsoft, down 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent respectively.

"The dispersion we are seeing today, where correlations are broken down and people are making investment decisions based on incoming data, is a very positive shift in the market,” Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Equity Capital Markets in New York, told Reuters

Meanwhile, Apple confirmed that it plans to invest US$1 billion in SoftBank Group’s new technology fund to help finance technologies it could use in the future, the Wall Street Journal reported. The stock traded little changed from the previous close in early afternoon.

“We believe their new fund will speed the development of technologies which may be strategically important to Apple,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said, according to the Journal. She added Apple has worked with the Japanese telecom company for many years.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the day with a 0.1 percent decline from the previous close. Both France’s CAC 40 Index and Germany’s DAX Index closed unchanged from the previous day. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.2 percent.

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