Latest Star Wars release boosts Disney, US stocks up

US stocks reduced their gains on Monday after Russia's ambassador to Turkey had been shot dead in Ankara and several people were killed by a truck driven into a Christmas market in Germany.
Disney lifted the Dow following a strong opening weekend performance for the latest release in its Star Wars movie franchise.
Disney lifted the Dow following a strong opening weekend performance for the latest release in its Star Wars movie franchise.PHOTO: DISNEY

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished modestly higher Monday (Dec 19), with Disney lifting the Dow following a strong opening weekend performance for the latest release in its Star Wars movie franchise.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story raked in US$155 million (S$225 million) Friday to Sunday, well above the competing options, and better than some had expected, Exhibitor Relations said.

Disney jumped 1.4 percent. Other gainers in the Dow included Boeing and Microsoft, while Merck lost 2.1 percent following a downgrade by the investment firm Jefferies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 percent to 19,993.06.

The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 0.2 percent to 2,262.53, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.4 percent to 5,457.44.

Analysts said buying enthusiasm was marred by the assassination in Istanbul of Russia's ambassador to Turkey by a Turkish policeman and by the killing of at least nine when a truck ploughed into a busy Christmas market in Berlin.

In a commencement address, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the US job market is at its strongest since the start of the financial crisis. The remarks were Yellen's first since the Fed's decision last week to lift interest rates for only the second time a decade.

Trading volume is expected to taper off as the week moves closer to the Christmas holiday weekend. And the calendar of data releases is quite sparse.