Stocks hit record as US senators reach deal to end shutdown

Of the 55 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Jan 22 morning, 80 per cent have topped expectations. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - US stocks advanced on Monday (Jan 22) as each of Wall Street's main scored records in the wake of a deal by US senators to end the federal government shutdown.

Legislation to renew federal funding to the government cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate and was expected soon to pass votes in the Senate and House of Representatives, allowing government to re-open through Feb 8.

"You would think something like the threat of a government shutdown or an actual government shutdown would serve as a catalyst to spook some weaker holders out of the market," said Eric Marshall, portfolio manager and director of research at Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, Texas.

"That hasn't happened, which speaks to underlying strength of what we're seeing right now in equity markets."

Earnings growth of 12.4 per cent is expected for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data. Of the 55 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Monday morning, 80 per cent have topped expectations, well above the 72 per cent beat rate for the past four quarters.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 142.88 points, or 0.55 percent, to 26,214.6, the S&P 500 gained 22.67 points, or 0.81 percent, to 2,832.97 and the Nasdaq Composite added 71.65 points, or 0.98 percent, to 7,408.03.

Halliburton Co climbed 6.40 percent after posting a much bigger-than-expected quarterly profit in the fourth quarter, benefiting from a shale-driven surge in U.S. oil production.

The Nasdaq biotech index rose 3.15 per cent to notch its best day since June 21 after a flurry of merger activity in the sector with French drugmaker Sanofi and U.S.-based Celgene splurging a combined total of more than $20 billion.

Shares in U.S. hemophilia specialist Bioverativ soared 61.89 percent after Sanofi agreed to buy the company for $11.6 billion.

Juno Therapeutics jumped 26.83 per cent after Celgene agreed to buy the biotech for about $9 billion in cash.

In other M&A news, AIG said it would buy reinsurer Validus Holdings for US$5.56 billion, sending the target's shares up 44.03 per cent.

Industrial stocks were one of the few laggards, as woes continued for General Electric, down 0.55 after BofA-Merrill Lynch downgraded its stock. GE fell below $16 for the first time since 2011 and is down nearly 8 percent for the year.

Shares of Netflix Inc, a major contributor to the recent stock rally, closed up 3.23 percent ahead of its quarterly results and added to gains in extended trading after its quarterly numbers were released.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.70-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.38-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 123 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 202 new highs and 16 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.56 billion shares, above the 6.34 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

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