US stocks end bruising quarter on up note

A trader work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Sept 15, 2015 in New York City.
A trader work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Sept 15, 2015 in New York City.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished a painful third quarter on a positive note on Wednesday (Sept 30), joining big European and Asian markets in rallying on speculation of more monetary stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 235.57 points (1.47 per cent) to 16,284.70, while the broad-based S&P 500 rose 35.94 (1.91 per cent) to 1,920.03.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 102.84 (2.28 per cent) to 4,620.16, notching its first increase in seven sessions.

Analysts said weak eurozone inflation data lifted expectations for more stimulus from the European Central Bank. They also pointed to technical factors behind Wednesday's strong gains after US markets tested an August low on Tuesday, but failed to breach it.

Despite the strong rallies, the Dow lost 7.56 per cent in the quarter, while the S&P 500 fell 6.94 per cent and the Nasdaq 7.35 per cent.

The third quarter was the worst three-month stretch in four years for the S&P 500, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Sentiment has been dented by worries about the slowing Chinese economy and concerns about a US Federal Reserve plan to raise interest rates in 2015.

Goldman Sachs also recently cited the "unstable" political environment in Washington, predicting that an upcoming debate on raising the US debt limit will be "contentious and may rattle investors."

Some of the most robust gains came among slumping pharmaceutical shares, such as Allergan (+7.8 per cent), Valeant International (+12.8 per cent) and Biogen (+4.9 per cent).

Some large industrial stocks were also strong, including Chevron (+3.5 per cent), Dow Chemical (+4.5 per cent) and General Electric (+2.7 per cent).

Data-storage company Western Digital surged 14.5 per cent on news that Chinese technology company Unisplendour Corporation will pay US$3.78 billion for a 15 per cent stake in the US company.

Twitter jumped 5.3 per cent following a report that co-founder and interim chief executive Jack Dorsey will stay on as CEO, bringing an end to the company's search for a top executive.

Luxury fashion company Ralph Lauren Corporation powered 13.6 per cent higher on news that founder Ralph Lauren would step down as chief executive and appoint Gap executive Stefan Larsson as his replacement. Gap fell 5.7 per cent.