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Wall Street carries momentum into 2018 as techs climb

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York January 3, 2018. — Reuters picTraders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York January 3, 2018. — Reuters picNEW YORK, Jan 3 — Wall Street’s major indexes were higher on the first trading session of 2018 yesterday, driven by gains in technology and consumer discretionary stocks, setting the stage for another robust year for equities.

Major stock indexes closed out 2017 with their best performances since 2013 and the rally is widely expected to continue this year, helped by a cut in corporate taxes that is anticipated to boost profits as well as the economy.

“It is seasonally a very good time for equities as new money comes into work,” said John Brady, senior vice president at futures brokerage R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago.

“It seems as if most economists have raised their GDP forecasts for 2018, and we’re going to get some form of a fiscal stimulus into an economy that has a tight labor market. The market is pricing all of this in.”

Gains in Apple, Facebook, Alphabet and Microsoft pulled the technology index higher by about 1 per cent, following a 37 per cent surge in 2017 that made it the best performing S&P sector.

“People are back to looking at what have been the winners,” said Rick Meckler, president of hedge fund LibertyView Capital Management LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The S&P consumer discretionary index was up 1.35 per cent, boosted by a 1.4 per cent gain in Amazon and a 3 per cent increase in Walt Disney.

Disney, Netflix and Discovery Communications climbed following brokerage Macquire’s upgrade to “outperform”.

JC Penney, Nordstrom and Kohl’s climbed after a bullish note on the retail sector by Citigroup detailed the benefits from the corporate tax cuts.

Oil prices dipped but hovered near their mid-2015 highs amid large anti-government rallies in major exporter Iran and ongoing supply cuts led by Opec and Russia.

Gold and copper prices extended their gains, but the greenback began the year on the back foot, with the dollar index slipping to its weakest level since September.

At 12.28pm ET (1728 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 49.97 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 24,769.19 and the S&P 500 was up 16.7 points, or 0.62 per cent, at 2,690.31. The Nasdaq Composite was up 82.61 points, or 1.2 per cent, at 6,986.00.

Shares of casino operators Wynn Resorts and Melco Resorts & Entertainment were down more than 2 per cent after a report showed lower-than-expected rise in Macau gambling revenue in December.

Abbott Labs jumped more than 3 per cent to a record US$59.02 (RM237.23) after two brokerages upgraded the company’s stock to “overweight”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,786 to 1,073. On the Nasdaq, 2,019 issues rose and 902 fell. — Reuters

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