US stocks rally on busy earnings day as crude extends rebound

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US stocks climbed as a rally in oil bolstered energy shares and investors digested earnings from Facebook Inc. to Under Armour Inc. Emerging market equities advanced following the Federal Reserve’s dovish commentary.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed higher for only the second time this week after fluctuating earlier during what was the busiest reporting day of the earning’s season. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index jumped amid bets the Fed will refrain from raising interest rates too quickly. West Texas Intermediate capped for a three-day advance, helping boost currencies of commodity-exporting nations. The dollar extended its longest losing streak in four months against the euro after a report showed U.S. durable-goods orders slumped.

Speculation that central banks around the world will intervene to steady financial markets has helped shore up investor confidence over the past week. The Fed’s first statement since its December rate hike noted officials were “closely monitoring” developments from China to Europe for any adverse impact on the economy. The U.S. earnings season is also in full swing and investors are monitoring results to make sure companies are strong enough to counter concerns ranging from China to oil and flagging global growth.

“Today, directionally, will be driven by oil prices,” said John Canally, chief economic strategist at LPL Financial Corp. in Boston. “Oil is going to dictate where markets go, but there’s still a lingering fear that there’s some great unknown out there with regard to China. I think the Fed statement yesterday got everybody used to the fact that the Fed is probably in pause mode.”

Stocks

The S&P 500 added 0.6 percent as of 4 p.m. in New York. Energy and technology stocks led gains as Facebook surged 16 percent after reporting record sales. Health-care stocks were the only decliners among 10 major groups, as Abbott Laboratories and Celgene Corp. tumbled after posting disappointing results. EBay Inc. saw its biggest decline in more than seven years after reporting sales that fell short of analysts’ estimates.

“Biotechs are running counter to the good day that oil is having and energy stocks are having,” said Tim Ghriskey, who helps oversee $1.5 billion as managing director and chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management in New York. “The health-care sector is just taking it on the chin today and I think that’s a valuation issue.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 1.6 percent amid worse- than-estimated earnings from companies including Roche Holding AG and Hennes & Mauritz AB. Banks were among the worst performers, with Deutsche Bank AG sliding 5.4 percent to its lowest level in almost seven years, after posting its first annual loss since 2008. 

(Bloomberg)

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