Wall Street surges at end of awful January

Wall Street surged over 2 % on Friday after the Bank of Japan unexpectedly cut interest rates and Microsoft led a major rally in technology shares, repairing some of the damage to the S&P 500's worst January since 2009.

Slammed by collapsing oil prices that have fed doubts about the health of the global economy, stocks have had a volatile start to the year. At one point last week, the S&P's loss for 2016 reached 11 % before recovering to end the month down 5 %.

The index rose 2.48 % on Friday, its strongest day since September.

"Sentiment certainly had swung to a wildly negative scenario. In the short term, I’m not sure the sentiment backdrop we’ve seen was warranted," said Michael Church, president of Addison Capital Management in Philadelphia.

"What happens if there is not a recession? What happens if China stabilizes and the Fed doesn't raise rates aggressively?"

Global equities got a surprise boost on Friday after Japan's central bank cut a benchmark rate below zero to stimulate its economy.

Stocks were also lifted by weak fourth-quarter U.S. gross domestic product growth data, which bolstered arguments that the Federal Reserve might go slower than expected on future rate hikes.

While the Fed has not ruled out a rate hike in March, many investors believe recent global economic and financial turmoil may lead it to wait.

Microsoft shares jumped 5.83 % on better-than-expected results.

The software company was the biggest influence on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq and helped push the S&P tech sector up 3.6 %, its strongest session since August.

Fourth-quarter corporate reporting season is well under way, with S&P 500 companies on average expected to post a 4.1 % drop in earnings, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Excluding energy companies, earnings are seen rising 2.1 %.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended 2.47 % higher at 16,466.30 while the S&P 500 gained 46.88 points or 2.48 % higher to end at 1,940.24.

The Nasdaq Composite surged 2.38 % to 4,613.95.

For the week, the Dow gained 2.3 %, the S&P added 1.7 % and the Nasdaq increased 0.5 %.

That left the Dow down 5.5 % for the month and the Nasdaq 7.9 % lower, its largest monthly loss since May 2010.

In Friday's trading, Amazon slumped 7.61 % after its quarterly profit missed expectations.

Xerox gained 5.63 % after announcing a deal with Carl Icahn to split itself into two.

WTI crude oil rose 1.4 % after trimming early gains on a report that Iran would not participate in a possible deal between OPEC and other producing countries to reduce output.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,789 to 339. On the Nasdaq, 2,290 issues rose and 584 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 16 new 52-week highs and seven new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 28 new highs and 100 new lows.

About 10.0 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 8.3 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

 

About the Author

Noel Randewich, Reuters