Wall Street opens higher with optimism from US China trade talks
Wall Street was set to open higher on Wednesday, lifted by hopes that the ongoing U.S.-China trade talks could result in an agreement, while benign inflation data did little to change the outlook on interest rates. "So far, so good," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said about the talks in Beijing, a day after President Donald Trump said he would be willing to let a March 1 deadline slide if the two countries were close to a deal.
"The market is taking into consideration the fact that they are talking and there's also the deal to avoid another possible government shutdown which is being viewed as a positive," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager, at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York. Trade-sensitive industrial bellwethers Boeing Inc rose 0.6 per cent, while Caterpillar Inc gained 1.4 per cent.
"Inflation is right in line with expectations...There is no need to bring the Fed into the picture now," Pavlik said. Data showed U.S. consumer prices were unchanged for a third straight month in January, leading to the smallest annual increase in inflation in more than 1-1/2 years, which could allow the Federal Reserve to hold interest rates steady for a while.
In late-January, the Fed indicated its three-year-drive to tighten monetary policy may be at an end and said it would be "patient" before making any further moves. The benchmark S&P 500 index is nearly 17 per cent above its December lows, helped by the dovish Federal Reserve, optimism on trade and a largely upbeat fourth-quarter earnings season.
Also in focus was a tight deadline that Congress was up against to pass a bipartisan accord to avert another partial U.S. government shutdown, with multiple reports that Trump planned to sign the deal. At 8:46 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 85 points, or 0.33 per cent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 7.75 points, or 0.28 per cent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 32.75 points, or 0.47 per cent.
The fourth-quarter earnings season is in the last leg, and about 71 per cent of S&P 500 companies that have reported have beaten consensus estimates. Analysts now estimate that first-quarter earnings will decline 0.3 per cent, which would be the first loss since the earnings recession ended in the second quarter of 2016.
Activision Blizzard Inc rose 3.9 per cent premarket after the videogame maker announced share buyback plan and job cuts. Rivals also gained, with Take-Two Interactive Software Inc up 1.2 per cent and Electronic Arts Inc 0.8 per cent higher.
Dish Network Corp fell 5.6 per cent after the U.S. satellite TV service provider lost more-than-expected pay-TV subscribers in the fourth quarter. Interpublic Group rose 4.5 per cent after the advertising firm's quarterly results beat estimates and it hiked its quarterly dividend.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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