U.S. stocks rose, launching the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to the best annual gain for a decade, as weaker-than-expected economic data fueled hopes the Federal Reserve will maintain stimulus at its meeting.
The S&P 500 rose 0.1% to 1,762.11 at 4 p.m. in New York. The benchmark index has increased 23.6% this year, which would be the best annual gain since a 26.4 percent surge in 2003. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.35 points, or less than 0.1%, to 15,568.93. About 5.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, in line with the three-month average.
“The path of least resistance is higher,” said for The Wall Street Journal, Randy Billhardt, head of capital markets at investment bank MLV & Co. “The bad news is shrugged off, and the good news is being embraced.”
“With Janet Yellen coming on stream and the latest jobs data that was a disappointment, that suggests that the Fed will continue to ease and print money until at least March and probably beyond.”, Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at RW Baird & Co., said by phone to Bloomberg.
In corporate world profits have beaten the average analyst estimate at 76% of the 249 S&P 500 companies that have released results so far in the latest reporting season according to Bloomberg.
Burger King added 5.8 % to $20.90. The fast food chain reported third-quarter revenue beat analyst estimates as overseas gains in comparable-store sales offset a decline in the U.S. and Canada.
Hershey Co. gained 3.1% to $100.14, giving the chocolate maker’s stock a record close three days before Halloween.
J.C. Penney Co. soared 8.8% to $7.39 for the biggest gain in S&P 500. Chief Executive Officer Myron Ullman said at a conference he still expects positive comparable sales in the third quarter, Reuters reported.
Despite the overall positive atmosphere in US stock market, Apple fell 2.2% to $518.46 as of 4:50 p.m. in New York. After the close of regular trading, the world’s most-valuable company predicted lighter-than-estimated gross margins. However, its sales forecast for the crucial holiday quarter topped analysts’ projections. Profit for the just-ended quarter fell 8.6% to $7.51 billion, or $8.26 a share, above the $7.92 projected by analysts on average and the third-consecutive period of declines.
Merck lost 2.6% to $45.35 in regular trading which made it the biggest drop in the Dow. Third-quarter earnings, excluding one-time items, were 92 cents a share. Sales fell 4% to $11 billion, hurt by patent expiration and foreign currency exchange, the second-biggest U.S. drugmaker said. The revenue fell short of the $11.1 billion projected by analysts.