US stocks gain on optimism over Brexit vote

US stocks moved higher on Monday as new polls indicated British voters are more likely to choose to remain in the European Union.
Campaigners hold placards for "Britain Stronger in Europe" in London on June 20, 2016
Campaigners hold placards for "Britain Stronger in Europe" in London on June 20, 2016PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks scored solid gains on Monday, joining a global equity rally as polls suggested Britain will vote to stay in the European Union.

The gains were a reversal from last week, when polls showing an advantage for the "Leave" faction in Thursday's referendum sparked big declines.

"It's about the momentum shift, the reversal of the momentum of the 'Leave' camp in the Brexit debate shifting to the 'Remain' camp," said Art Hogan chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.7 per cent to 17,804.87.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.6 per cent to 2,083.25, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.8 per cent at 4,837.21.

Chinese e-commerce giant rose 4.6 per cent on news of an alliance with Wal-Mart Stores in which the US company will transfer its online Yihaodian operations in China to in exchange for a stake in Dow member Wal-Mart rose 0.2 per cent.

Anthem and Cigna, two of the nation's top health insurers, were in focus after The Wall Street Journal reported US antitrust regulators are privately expressing concern about Anthem's proposed takeover of Cigna, citing people familiar with the matter. Anthem rose 0.3 per cent while Cigna fell 1.3 per cent.

Most petroleum-linked stocks rose on higher oil prices, including Chevron, up 1 per cent, ConocoPhillips, up 1.2 per cent, and Apache, up 2.7 per cent.

Technology shares with larger gains included Adobe Systems, eBay, Expedia, Priceline and Symantec, all of which climbed 2.5 per cent or more. Amazon rose 1.1 per cent, while Apple dipped 0.2 per cent.