Stocks and commodities rose as Europe’s leaders reached a budget agreement, China’s trade expanded more than estimated and companies posted better-than- forecast earnings. Spanish bonds gained and the yen rallied.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.5% to 1,517.19, above its best closing level since November 2007, and the Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 1.2%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average sank 1.8% as Sony Corp. tumbled. The yen strengthened 0.9% to 92.81 per dollar, trimming its decline in the past three months to 14%. Spain’s 10-year bond yield dropped six basis points to 5.36% while U.S. Treasury rates were little changed. Zinc, gasoline and heating oil jumped more than 1.2% to lead commodity gains.
European Union leaders prepared the first-ever cuts in the bloc’s budget after Mario Draghi, the central bank president, said recent currency advances may slow price gains and the pace of expansion. China’s trade surplus was $29.15 billion in January, compared with a median projection for a $24.7 billion excess. Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said the currency had weakened faster than he anticipated.
“The trend’s been up all year and I don’t see anything changing that,” John Fox, a Cobleskill, New York-based fund manager at Fenimore Asset Management, which manages about $1.5 billion, said in a telephone interview. “The structural problems in Europe are not solved, but from the companies that report their geographic breakout, Europe is flattish. It’s not getting worse from an American corporation point of view.”
Eight out of 10 groups in the S&P 500 rose, led by technology, consumer and health-care shares. LinkedIn Corp. surged 22%, the most since May 2011, after the online professional-networking service provider posted earnings that beat estimates. Activision Blizzard Inc. rose 10% after the largest U.S. video-game maker more than tripled fourth-quarter net income.
Trading volume for S&P 500 companies was 15% below the 30-day average for this time of day as the U.S. Northeast prepared for a storm forecast to drop snow by the foot. Exchanges in New York, which shut for two days in October when superstorm Sandy battered the city, had no plans to close early and said they were ready to use backup systems if needed.
“It’s business as usual,” NYSE Euronext spokesman Richard Adamonis said by phone. “We do also have our contingency plans in place.”
The S&P 500 has rallied about 6.3% in 2013 as U.S. lawmakers reached a budget compromise and earnings beat estimates at three-quarters of the companies that reported results so far. Financial companies have performed the best, beating results by 14%, data compiled by Bloomberg show.