US stocks surge; Nasdaq up 1.3 per cent

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks rose sharply on Friday, ending a two-day slide with a rally led by Apple and other tech stocks and extending to most industrial sectors.

The tech-rich Nasdaq posted the biggest gain, rising 63.97 points (1.29 per cent) to 5,005.39.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 183.54 (1.03 per cent) to 18,024.06, while the broad-based S&P 500 rose 22.78 (1.09 per cent) to 2,108.29.

All but four companies in the 30-stock Dow finished higher.

"We got a little bit oversold yesterday," said Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management.

Apple, which had lost 5.7 per cent in the prior three sessions, shot up 3 per cent.

Biotech stocks, another underperformer this week, surged after Gilead Sciences (+4.5 per cent) reported that first-quarter net income nearly doubled to US$4.3 billion (S$5.7 billion).

Amgen advanced 1.6 per cent, Biogen rose 3.3 per cent and Celgene added 2.3 per cent.

General Motors added 1 per cent after reporting that April US auto sales rose 5.9 per cent from a year ago to 269,056 vehicles. Ford Motor inched up 0.1 per cent sales as April sales increased 5.4 per cent to 222,498 vehicles.

Yum Brands bolted 6.9 per cent higher on news that activist hedge fund Third Point took a "significant" stake in the owner of the Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains. Third Point said in a letter that it sees potential for a "dramatic profit recovery" at the restaurant company.

Swiss farm chemicals company Syngenta surged 16.2 per cent higher following a report that US seed giant Monsanto had made a takeover offer. Monsanto advanced 3.9 per cent.

Dow member Chevron fell 1.8 per cent as first-quarter earnings dropped 46.1 per cent to US$2.6 billion due to lower oil prices.

Expedia shot up 7.9 per cent on first-quarter net income of US$44.1 million, compared with a loss of US$14.3 million last year. Sales rose 14 per cent.

LinkedIn sank 18.6 per cent on a second-quarter revenue forecast of US$670-US$675 million, well below the US$718 million projected by analysts.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.11 per cent from 2.04 per cent Thursday, while the 30-year advanced to 2.82 per cent from 2.75 per cent. Bond yields and prices move inversely.

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