Wall St rises on tech boost, robust Johnson & Johnson earnings

A street sign, Wall Street, is seen outside New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, January 3, 2019. — Reuters pic
A street sign, Wall Street, is seen outside New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, January 3, 2019. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, April 16 — US stocks rose today, powered by stellar results from healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson and gains in technology stocks, with the benchmark S&P 500 less than a per cent away from its all-time high.

Johnson & Johnson gained 2.7 per cent after beating quarterly profit estimates and raising adjusted sales growth forecast for the year.

The results helped healthcare, the worst performing sector this year, gain 0.69 per cent. The index has risen 4.9 per cent this year, compared with a 16.3 per cent climb for the S&P 500.

UnitedHealth Group Inc, which rose after beating quarterly profit estimates and raising its adjusted earnings target for the year, reversed course to drop 1.3 per cent.

“UnitedHealth and Johnson & Johnson raising their forecast is a hugely good thing as heading into the year we thought we might see an earnings pause or an earnings recession,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.

“These companies who typically don’t want to have a pre-announcement saying they have to walk back on their earnings expectations, for them to raise guidance is really good.”

Banks have posted mixed earnings so far. Bank of America Corp declined two per cent after revenue missed in the first quarter but earnings still beat forecasts.

JPMorgan Chase & Co kicked off earnings for the group on a strong note on Friday, but Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Citigroup Inc disappointed on Monday with revenue misses.

Of the 33 S&P 500 companies that reported through yesterday, 81.8 per cent came in above estimates, above the 76 per cent average of the past four quarters, according to Refinitiv data.

Analysts now expect S&P 500 companies to post a 2.1 per cent year-on-year decline in profits, which would mark the first annual decline since 2016.

At 9.42am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 105.02 points, or 0.40 per cent, at 26,489.79. The S&P 500 was up 8.90 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 2,914.48 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 28.75 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 8,004.77.

Technology shares rose 0.6 per cent, and provided the biggest boost to markets on gains in Apple Inc and chipmakers. The Philadelphia chip index gained 1.4 per cent.

Only the defensive utilities, real estate, materials sectors were marginally lower.

Among other stocks, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc fell 4.2 per cent after the transport and logistics provider’s first-quarter results fell short of estimates, which pushed the Dow Jones Transports index down 0.25 per cent.

Netflix Inc, due to report after markets close, rose 1.7 per cent after Deutsche Bank upgraded the streaming company’s shares to “buy”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.02-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.00-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 45 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 53 new highs and 14 new lows. — Reuters

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