US stocks end higher after choppy session, Dow up 1.8%

VIDEO: REUTERS
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Oct 30, 2018.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Oct 30, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished solidly higher, taking a break from the selling action that has dominated October even as analysts predicted more volatility ahead.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.8 per cent to close the session at 24,874.64.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 1.6 per cent to end at 2,682.63, and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index also jumped 1.6 per cent to 7,161.65.

US stocks were in positive territory virtually the entire session, but the market experienced a couple of waves of weakness that pushed the Nasdaq into the red and also significantly cut the gains of the other two major indices.

But Wall Street ended firmly higher, bolstered by a report from the Conference Board that rated US consumer confidence at a new 18-year high in October.

"Volatility has returned because investors have a lot of questions," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer of Cornerstone Wealth Management. "The market is trying to guess when the economic expansion might end."

Key unknowns dogging investors include the effect of rising US interest rates, the fallout from US-China trade tensions, and the impact on corporate earnings if the economy slows, or is hit with a recession.

"Investors are really trying to build a picture of what this long-term outlook is," said Kate Warne, a principal at Edward Jones. "They are not certain how much they should revised their estimates."

Big winners in the Dow included Caterpillar, up 3 per cent, Intel, up 5.2 per cent, and Boeing, which surged 4.3 per cent, recovering some of the losses suffered on Monday when trade-war worries weighed on the aerospace giant.

Coca-Cola, another Dow member, climbed 2.5 per cent after reporting a 30 per cent rise in third-quarter profits to US$1.9 billion (S$2.6 billion), due in part to strong sales in North America.

But General Electric plunged 8.8 per cent after cutting most of its dividend as it reported a US$22.8 billion loss in the third-quarter. Executives also disclosed an expansion of probes by the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission into company accounting.

Athletic apparel and sneaker company Under Armour surged 24.8 per cent after reporting a 39 per cent jump in quarterly profits of US$75.3 million.