Wall Street gained a bit of momentum in afternoon action as investors looked to put a whipsaw week to bed.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 73 points higher, or 0.43% to 17215. The S&P 500 added 9 points, or 0.45% to 2033, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 16 points, or 0.34% to 4886.
Health care and consumer staples led the S&P 500 sectors in the green, while industrials declined.
Corporate earnings and economic data again drove momentum during the session, though the calendar was sparse.
Conglomerate General Electric (NYSE:GM) opened its books to reveal a beat on both lines in the third quarter. The company reported adjusted profit per share of 29 cents, topping expectations by three cents. Revenue came in at $31.68 billion, handily beating the $28.58 billion expectation. The company said jet engine and power turbine production helped offset the cost of declining oil and gas businesses.
Honeywell (NYSE:HON) also revealed its latest results, which were mixed. The conglomerate said sales in its aerospace unit declined 2% and 3% in the automation and controls business.
On the session, GE, Merk (NYSE:MRK), and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) helped boost the index to a fresh two-month high as it looked for its third-straight weekly gain.
Alastair McCaig, IG market analyst, said in a note that at this point one-tenth of all S&P 500 companies have released their quarterly figures and though it may seem like a sluggish quarter he pointed out that 75% of those companies have revealed better-than-expected EPS, while sales figures have lagged.
“All of this points toward a U.S. corporate picture telling us the same thing as economic releases: That the FOMC should be feeling no increased pressure to raise rates just yet,” he said.
In recent action, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond was up 0.005 percentage point to 2.03%.
On the economic front, consumer sentiment data from the University of Michigan came in much better than expected. The gauge rose to 92.1 in October from a final reading of 87.2 in September. Wall Street had anticipated a reading of 89.
Peter Kenny, market strategist at Kenny & Co., said pieces of the economic puzzle, including Thursday’s 42-year low weekly jobless claims figure, and a slight improvement in CPI, have provided some encouragement to the market. But there’s a quieter factor that’s also helping to underpin sentiment: A rally in Asian equities.
“With investors in Chinese markets banking on a reform-fueled rally, equity prices have rebounded from the lows registered in late summer,” he said. “Several large Chinese-based companies listed here in the U.S. posted significant gains again [Thursday].”
Kenny added that volatility is likely to stick around as investors continue to deal with a slowing global economy as U.S. central bankers dance around the question every investor wants to know the answer to: When will the Fed raise rates?
Indeed, while the Shanghai Composite closed the prior session at a two-month high, it capped Friday’s session 1.6% higher, with other major averages following suit.
European equity markets, too, rode the momentum: The Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks large-cap companies in the eurozone, rose 0.81%, while the German Dax climbed 0.39%, the French CAC 40 gained 0.59%, and the UK’s FTSE 100 added 0.62%.
In commodities, global oil prices were higher. U.S. crude rallied 1.9% to $47.26 a barrel, while Brent, the international benchmark, added 1.6% to $50.50 a barrel.
Metals were lower: Gold prices declined 0.41% to $1,182 a troy ounce, while silver declined 0.43% to $16.10 an ounce, and copper shed 0.83% to $2.40 a pound.