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While you were sleeping: Earnings optimism lifts Wall St

Tuesday 17th April 2018

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Wall Street moved higher as investors geared up for the US earnings season amid easing concern about a global trade war and geopolitical tensions.

Shares of Bank of America rose, up 1.4 percent as of 3.19pm in New York, after the bank posted a record first-quarter profit.

“Strong client activity, coupled with a growing global economy and solid US consumer activity, led to record quarterly earnings," Brian Moynihan, Bank of America's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Wall Street moved higher. In 3.10pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 1 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.8 percent. In 2.54pm trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.8 percent.

“Now we get to concentrate on fundamentals,” Jeffrey Carbone, managing partner, Cornerstone Wealth, in Huntersville, North Carolina, told Reuters. “Earnings is kicking in and the economic data is still good and shows an accelerating economy.”

The Dow rose as gains in shares of UnitedHealth and those of Merck, recently up 3.2 percent and 2.5 percent respectively, outweighed declines in shares of General Electric and those of Nike, recently down 1.6 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.

“Earnings are going to be very good, probably up in the 15 to 20 percent neighbourhood year over year," Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors, told Bloomberg. "We felt that that would drive stocks higher over the course of the next two months.” 

US Treasuries were steady, with yields on the 10-year note at 2.83 percent. 

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with a 0.4 percent drop from the previous close. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index fell 0.9 percent, Germany’s DAX Index declined 0.4 percent, while France’s CAC40 Index eased 0.04 percent.

Bucking the trend in the FTSE 100 and posting its biggest gain were shares of Whitbread, closing 7.2 percent higher in London.

Hedge fund Elliott Advisors has become the second activist investor to call for Whitbread to split its hotel and coffee shop businesses after emerging as the largest shareholder in the British company, Reuters reported. 

Elliott agrees with fellow activist Sachem Head that Whitbread should split into two but differs on the best way to proceed from there, according to Reuters.

While Sachem Head began pushing for a breakup three months ago, and possible sale of the popular Costa coffee-shop chain, Elliott is pushing for it to be listed under its own name, a source familiar with the fund's thinking told Reuters.

Elliott, part of US investor Paul Singer's hedge fund firm, believes splitting Whitbread into two listed entities will allow the market to value it properly, said the source, according to Reuters. 


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