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Tuesday August 20th, 2019 7:02PM

S&P 500 notches 3rd straight weekly gain as US stocks rally

By The Associated Press
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Stocks notched solid gains on Wall Street Friday, erasing most of the losses the market sustained after an uneven week of trading.

The strong finish gave the S&P 500 its third straight weekly gain. The benchmark index is now just under 1% from its most recent all-time high set on September 20, reflecting the strong rebound for the market this year after a dismal slide in December.

Banks led the gains Friday after a solid quarterly profit report from JPMorgan Chase opened the latest round of highly anticipated company earnings. Banks have been benefiting from higher interest rates, which allow them to book fatter profits from making loans.

Disney surged to an all-time high after it announced plans to offer its own video streaming service. Disney will be going head-to-head with Netflix, which declined.

The market was coming off a wobbly week as investors worried that the early first-quarter earnings reports would come in even weaker than the low expectations analysts already have.

The solid results from major banks Friday were encouraging, but investors need to see more, said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.

"In general, you need to have the financial companies participate in order for a market advance to continue," Stovall said. "Investors will be waiting, listening for other news that would be beneficial not only to banks, but to industrial and technology stocks."

The S&P 500 index rose 19.09 points, or 0.7%, to 2,907.41. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 269.25 points, or 1%, to 26,412.30. The average still finished slightly lower for the week.

The Nasdaq composite gained 36.80 points, or 0.5%, to 7,984.16. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 5.66 points, or 0.4%, to 1,584.80.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose to 2.56% from 2.50% late Thursday.

Indexes in Europe and Asia closed broadly higher.

In addition to banks, technology, communications and industrial companies helped lift U.S. stocks Friday. Health care was the only sector to lose ground. So far this year, it's lagging the other 10 sectors in the S&P 500.

The market got an early boost from new economic data out of China showing the world's second-largest economy benefited from a surge in exports last month, even as Beijing and Washington continued to negotiate a resolution to their costly trade war.

The gain marks a turnaround from a severe contraction in February and helped put investor fears over a global economic slowdown in check.

The data on Chinese exports suggests that growth is potentially going to rebound, said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager with Globalt Investments.

"It wasn't as bad as people had expected it might be," he said.

Investors will be focusing over the next few weeks on company earnings reports in hopes of gleaning clues about the trajectory of the U.S. economy and corporate profits. Citigroup, UnitedHealth Group and Johnson & Johnson are among the larger companies releasing results next week.

Analysts expect companies in the S&P 500 to report a 3.4% drop in earnings per share from a year earlier, which would be the first decline since the spring of 2016. The expected drop in profits is due almost entirely to weaker profit margins.

Traders were encouraged Friday by JPMorgan's quarterly report card. The investment banking giant rose 4.7% after it reported solid profits for the first quarter.

Wells Fargo initially rose after its results beat analysts' forecasts, but its shares turned lower by midmorning and never recovered. The stock fell 2.6%.

JPMorgan and Wells Fargo's latest results show that higher interest rates during the quarter drove increases in revenue. Those higher rates allow banks and financial companies to charge more for loans and credit cards.

The trend helped boost shares in other major banks. Goldman Sachs picked up 2.5%, Bank of America added 3.8% and Citigroup rose 2.3%.

Disney surged 11.5% after it released plans to offer a streaming entertainment service dubbed Disney Plus. The service is scheduled to roll out on November 12 at $6.99 per month. That's well below the $13 monthly price tag for rival Netflix, whose stock fell 4.5%.

Disney ended a lucrative licensing relationship with Netflix in order to create the streaming service. It faces challenges as it builds a service to compete with the entrenched streaming leaders, which also include HBO Go and Showtime.

Energy companies rose Friday after Chevron said it would pay $33 billion to buy rival Anadarko Petroleum. The sector has been rising as oil prices have surged about 40% so far this year, sending energy company revenues higher and giving them more funds for investment.

Anadarko vaulted 32%. Among other big gainers in the sector, Pioneer Natural Resources jumped 11.5% and Devon Energy climbed 7.4%. Chevron was one of the sector's few decliners, dropping 4.9%.

Energy futures closed mostly higher. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.5% to settle at $63.89 a barrel. Brent crude gained 1% to close at $71.55 a barrel.

Wholesale gasoline added 0.3% to $2.04 a gallon, heating oil picked up 0.2% to $2.07 a gallon and natural gas dropped 0.2% to $2.66 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The dollar rose to 112.08 yen from 111.66 yen on Thursday. The euro strengthened to $1.1296 from $1.1258.

Gold inched 0.1% higher to $1,295.20 an ounce, silver added 0.6% to $14.96 an ounce and copper rose 2% to $2.95 a pound.

___

AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services, AP Business - Utilities
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