Tech, health care companies help lift U.S. stocks higher

Andrew Cummings
January 20, 2018

At 9:45 a.m. ET (1445 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 17.44 points, or 0.07 percent, at 26,098.21, the S&P 500 was down 1.18 points, or 0.04 percent, at 2,801.38 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 6.11 points, or 0.08 percent, at 7,292.17.

The Dow added nearly 280 points in early trading in NY, hitting a high of 26,081 before falling back below the 26,000 mark towards lunchtime.

Morgan Stanley wrapped up earnings season for the big USA banks with a better-than-expected adjusted profit, but its shares slipped 0.43 percent. The Dow closed at 26,115.65, up 1.3 percent. The government is operating on its third temporary funding extension since the 2018 fiscal year began on October 1.

Dow Jones industrial average futures traded 13 points higher, while S&P 500 futures gained 0.5 points. Microsoft rose 2 percent.

The new record comes in the early days of earnings season for the last quarter of 2017.

Merck, another Dow component, added 3.41, or 5.8%, to 62.07 after the drugmaker said a combination of its Keytruda treatment with chemotherapy extended survival of patients with lung cancer. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rebounded from earlier losses to gain 0.3 percent, closing at 31,983.41 while the Shanghai Composite index added 0.2 percent to 3,444.67.44. Bank of America was down 0.2% percent after a $2.9 billion one-time tax charge almost halved its reported profit. Its shares were down 0.54 percent.

Even after Tuesday's declines, the Dow and the S&P 500 are enjoying their best start to a year since 2003, while Nasdaq is up the most since 2012.

The monthly unemployment rate has held at a 17-year low since October, while gross domestic product, a broad measure of goods and services produced across the US, has been expanding at a rate of more than 3% in recent months.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 12 cents to $63.61 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. IBM rose 2.9% after Barclays analysts upgraded the stock two notches to "overweight" and increased its price target by $59 to $192.

"Around him, the people in charge of the American economy come directly from Wall Street and Goldman Sachs", said Gregori Volokhine, president of Meeschaert Financial Services. The euro fell to $1.2235 from $1.2271.

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