Wall St makes gains; consumer shares rise

  • 17/02/2016

By Lewis Krauskopf

Wall Street minted its second straight session of solid gains on Tuesday, as investors snatched up beaten-down consumer discretionary, industrial and tech shares.

All 10 S&P sectors closed higher following an extended holiday weekend. Financials, healthcare and materials also posted gains of more than 1.5 percent.

Building on Friday's rally, the S&P 500 tallied its biggest two-day percentage gain since August.

Slumping oil prices, fears of a China-led slowdown in global growth and uncertainty over central bank monetary policies have roiled the markets this year.

The S&P 500 remains down 7.3 percent in 2016.

"I think you can make a case that a lot of stocks are oversold, and therefore they should be drawing some buyers from the sidelines," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice-president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

"The question is if we can sustain this rally for several days."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 222.57 points, or 1.39 percent, to 16,196.41, the S&P 500 gained 30.8 points, or 1.65 percent, to 1,895.58 and the Nasdaq Composite added 98.44 points, or 2.27 percent, to 4,435.96.

Investors are holding the most cash since November 2001, which should be interpreted as an "unambiguous buy" signal, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in its February global fund managers survey.

US equity market performance has been closely tied to oil prices as the commodity's 1-1/2-year slide has deepened.

Oil prices erased early gains on Tuesday after Russia and Saudi Arabia dashed expectations of an outright supply cut, but some investors took solace from the fact that the producers were in discussions.

"I take it as extremely positive news that the US market is rallying on a day that crude is down," said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"We may be finally breaking that toxic correlation that we've been seeing that has been turning the entire financial world on its head."

The S&P energy sector climbed 0.8 percent, but lagged the broader index.

Boeing shares gained 3.7 percent to US$112.60 and were the biggest boost to the Dow.

ADT soared 47.5 percent to US$39.64 after private equity firm Apollo Global Management agreed to buy the electronic security services provider for US$7 billion. Apollo rose 5.4 percent to US$14.12.

Community Health Systems slumped 22.1 percent to US$14.56 and weighed on other hospital operators after posting an unexpected quarterly loss.

Groupon surged 41.2 percent to US$4.08 after Alibaba disclosed a 32.9 million share stake in the company. Alibaba was up 8.9 percent at US$66.29.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,522 to 578, for a 4.36-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 2,208 issues rose and 606 fell for a 3.64-to-1 ratio favouring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted nine new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 67 new lows.

About 8.6 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, below the 9.6 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.