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While you were sleeping: Wall St regroups

Wednesday 29th March 2017

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Wall Street rose, stemming an eight-day drop in the Dow, as US consumer confidence climbed to the highest level in 16 years, while oil also gained.

A Conference Board report showed its consumer confidence index unexpectedly rallied 9.5 points to 125.6 in March, the highest since December 2000.

“Consumers feel current economic conditions have improved over the recent period, and their renewed optimism suggests the possibility of some upside to the prospects for economic growth in the coming months,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement, Bloomberg reported.

Oil also gained. Major traders gathered in Switzerland including Russell Hardy, Vitol's chief executive for Europe, Middle East and Africa, flagged that they expect OPEC and non-OPEC producers to extend their agreement to curtail output in the second half of the year, Reuters reported. 

To be sure, an extension would depend on the oil price at the time of the next OPEC meeting, scheduled for May 25, Hardy noted.

"At US$50 per barrel there's a lot of incentive to continue the policy, at US$60 per barrel, no. It'll depend on how fundamentals exert themselves in the second quarter," Hardy said, according to Reuters.

Wall Street moved higher. In 1.30pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.5 percent. In 1.14pm trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.6 percent. 

Despite the Trump administration’s failure on a Republican health care bill, investors remain optimistic it will successfully negotiate tax reform that is seen as supportive for business. 

"This market is driven by two things—the hope of policy agenda getting put into place and improving fundamentals," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Equity Capital Markets in New York, told Reuters.

"Whenever you found out that the agenda might take longer to get put out, you've gotten some piece of economic data that reminds you that the fundamental backdrop is still strong,” Hogan noted.

Advances in shares of JPMorgan Chase and those of DuPont, up 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent respectively, led the Dow higher. 

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with a 0.6 percent advance from the previous close. France’s CAC 40 Index increased 0.6 percent, the UK’s FTSE 100 Index added 0.7 percent, while Germany’s DAX Index rose 1.3 percent.

On Wednesday UK Prime Minister Theresa May is set to trigger Article 50, marking the start of two years of negations about the terms for the country's exit from the European Union. 

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