Nike, retailers lift US stocks

NEW YORK (AFP) - Nike's dividend increase and strong earnings from Ross Stores and Abercrombie & Fitch lifted US stocks Friday, finishing a strong week on a positive note.

Dow-member Nike shot up 5.5 per cent as it increased its dividend 14 per cent, unveiled a new US$12 billion (S$17 billion) share repurchase plan and approved a two-for-one stock split.

Teen-oriented fashion chain Abercrombie & Fitch surged 25 per cent, while Ross Stores jumped 10 per cent following better-than-expected results.

Those results helped offset gloomy reports from Macy's and some other retailers earlier in the earnings season.

"That's certainly giving a better back-drop to expectations for holidays than maybe it was two weeks ago," said Michael James, managing director of Wedbush Securities.

"The strength in the consumer stocks is helping to continue the sentiment we had all week."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 91.06 points (0.51 per cent) to 17,823.81.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 7.93 (0.38 per cent) to 2,089.17, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 31.28 (0.62 per cent) to 5,104.92.

Chipotle Mexican Grill plunged 12.3 per cent after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said an outbreak of E.coli linked to the fast-food chain had spread to additional states. The CDC said there are now 45 cases in six states, up from the original count of 22 cases in two states.

Chipotle said it has conducted "deep cleaning" in restaurants linked to the outbreak and was working with regulators.

Tesla Motors shed 0.8 per cent on news it was recalling all 90,000 of its Model S luxury electric cars sold worldwide since 2012 after discovering a problem with seatbelts.

Drugmaker Allergan jumped 3.5 per cent despite new US Treasury rules designed to discourage cross-border mergers aimed at cutting tax costs like the one being discussed between Allergan and Pfizer. Pfizer dipped 0.3 per cent.

Dow member Intel rose 1.1 per cent as it lifted its dividend by 8.3 per cent.