Wall Street hits new high as healthcare stocks rise

NEW YORK (Reuters) - All three major indexes hit record levels in early trading on Tuesday (Nov 7) as healthcare stocks rose on robust earnings and investors remained upbeat about a cut in corporate taxes.

Shares of Valeant Pharma surged 14.2 per cent after the company's profit beat Wall Street estimates due to strength in its eye-care Bausch + Lomb business.

Mylan rose 2 per cent, a day after the drugmaker raised its full-year forecast.

Negotiations on President Donald Trump's tax bill have begun after House Republicans last week unveiled a first draft that proposed a range of cuts aimed at helping businesses, including slashing the corporate rate to 20 percent from 35 percent.

With more than 400 of S&P 500 companies having reported, earnings for the third quarter are expected to have climbed 8 per cent, compared with expectations of a 5.9 per cent rise at the start of October, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The S&P has risen about 15 per cent in 2017 on the back on strong earnings, an improving economy and Mr Trump's promise to cut taxes.

"While the market remains in place for further gains, the unwinding of the earnings season is likely to slow the pace of gains as the battle of tax reform lurks in the background," said Mr Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial.

In early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 33.59 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 23,582.01, the S&P 500 was up 3.99 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 2,595.12.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 2.59 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 6,789.02.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the health index's 0.34 per cent rise leading the advancers.

Investors are also awaiting a speech from outgoing Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and Fed vice-chair for supervision Randal Quarles.

Ms Yellen will give acceptance remarks at a presentation of the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government in Washington at 2:30 pm ET.

Her speech will come less than a week after President Donald Trump chose Fed governor Jerome Powell to replace Ms Yellen at the end of her term in 2018.

Shares of Priceline Group were down 9.1 per cent after the online travel services company gave a softer-than-expected guidance for the fourth quarter.

Weight Watchers jumped 11.3 per cent after the weight management company raised its profit forecast.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,313 to 1,206.

On the Nasdaq, 1,267 issues fell and 1,087 advanced.