Wall St higher on earnings optimism

Traders work on the floor of the New York stock exchange on 8 January 2018. Reuters

Wall St higher on earnings optimism

The S&P consumer discretionary index jumped 1.3 per cent after retail sales data showed households bought more goods, suggesting the economy exited 2017 with strong momentum.

Another data showed US consumer prices recorded their biggest rise in 11 months in December on gains in the cost of rental accommodations and healthcare, bolstering expectations that inflation will accelerate this year.

That point has not been reached in the first days of 2018.

"Dudley is touching on something that investors should fear", said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. "If rates are higher, the present value of equities are too high".

Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to have increased by 11.8 percent in the recently-ended quarter, with the biggest gain from the energy sector, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

While Wells Fargo earnings beat expectations, its shares slipped 0.7 per cent after it set aside $3.25 billion in the fourth quarter to cover legal expenses related to probes into its mortgage and sales practices. "This is a wait-and-see mode with a healthy amount of optimism".

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent to 2,772.83, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.1 percent to 7,219.4, weighed down somewhat by a 4.2 percent drop in Facebook.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.40-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.18-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

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