Wall Street continued its rally on Friday with record closing highs as the fourth-quarter earnings season kicked off with solid results from banks and robust retail sales drove investor optimism about economic growth.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both registered their eighth record closing highs out of the first nine trading days of 2018, while the Dow boasted its sixth closing high of the year.
JPMorgan, the biggest US lender by assets, said a US tax overhaul would help future profits by reducing its tax bill and stimulating more business. The bank’s shares rose 1.7 per cent.
‘The fact all the big money centre banks beat on the bottom line is a good omen for the rest of the earnings season,’ said William Lynch, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates, in Hinsdale, Illinois.
Investors were also hopeful 2018 financial forecasts from US companies would beat Wall Street estimates as many analysts may not have tax savings fully reflected in their models as the tax bill was signed into law so late in December.
‘I don’t know how much of that is priced in right now,’ said Stephen Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco. ‘It seems like the economy is going OK, inflation is kind of nonexistent right now, wage growth is not an issue for most income statements, so what’s not to like here.’
Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to increase on an average by 12.1 per cent in the quarter, with profit for financial services companies likely to increase 13.2 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.
BlackRock rose 3.3 per cent. The world’s largest asset manager reported profit that beat estimates as investors flooded into the relatively low-cost funds.
While Wells Fargo earnings beat expectations, its shares slipped 0.7 per cent after it set aside $3.25 billion in the fourth quarter to cover legal expenses related to probes into its mortgage and sales practices.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 228.46 points, or 0.89 per cent, to 25,803.19, the S&P 500 gained 18.68 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 2,786.24 and the Nasdaq Composite added 49.29 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 7,261.06.
For the week, the S&P rose 1.6 per cent, compared with the Dow’s two-per cent rise and a 1.8-per cent advance in the Nasdaq.
The S&P consumer discretionary index jumped 1.3 per cent after retail sales data showed households bought more goods, suggesting the economy exited 2017 with strong momentum.
Amazon rose 2.2 per cent to breach $1,300 for the first time. It closed at $1,305.20.
Volume so far on US exchanges was 6.88 billion shares, above the 6.39 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.