Netflix, China stimulus hopes help boost Wall Street


NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks forged higher on Tuesday (Jan 15) as investors fostered hope of Chinese tax cuts and Netflix raised subscription rates, lifting the tech sector.

Equities dipped briefly in mid-afternoon trading after the British parliament massively rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan, but stocks soon resumed their upward course.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a gain of 0.7 per cent at 24,065.59 while the S&P 500 added 1.1 per cent to settle at 2,610.30.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 1.7 per cent to 7,023.83, finishing above the 7,000 mark for the first time since mid-December.

In Beijing, Chinese officials said they expected more "large-scale reductions" in taxes and fees this year, delighting investors - who have shuddered as economic data increasingly shows the world's second-largest economy has begun a sharp slowdown.

Healthcare giant UnitedHealth helped lead the Dow higher, rising 3.6 percent after better-than-expected quarterly results.

Meanwhile, streaming giant Netflix soared 6.6 per cent after announcing price hikes, including raising the cost of its most popular monthly plan to US$13 from US$11.

The good mood helped lift the tech sector generally. Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft each rose about three percent. Apple rose 2 per cent.

Tom Cahill of Venture Wealth Management told AFP investors would warmly greet any economic stimulus in China.

But he said stocks were entering a "resistance zone" and would find it hard to rise much higher.

"Companies are having a hard time with earnings and expectations."

JP Morgan rose 0.7 per cent despite reporting earnings that fell short of expectations, unlike Wells Fargo, which dropped 1.6 per cent after announcing a 1.4 per cent decline in quarterly earnings on lower revenues.