Wall St rises again day on data, earnings

Wall Street has closed higher as upbeat earnings and strong economic data put investors in a buying mood, with technology companies leading the charge.

All three major US stock indexes pared gains late in the session on Thursday, adding less than 1 per cent and bringing the bellwether S&P 500 close to 2 per cent below an all-time high reached on April 30.

The escalating US-China tariff war continued to be a concern for market participants, but upbeat quarterly results and data pointing to a strong US economy helped ease trade-related jitters.

Walmart rose 1.4 per cent after its first-quarter results beat analyst expectations.

Cisco Systems stock saw its biggest percentage jump since February 2016, gaining 6.7 per cent after better-than-expected quarterly results.

On the economic front, groundbreaking on new US homes increased more than expected in April, according to the Commerce Department, as declining interest rates provided support to the struggling housing sector.

The S&P 1500 Homebuilding index advanced 1.2 per cent.

In a separate report from the Labor Department, 16,000 fewer Americans applied for unemployment last week, beating economist estimates.

“If you look at the overall economy, we’re in a fundamentally strong position and this is a reinforcement of that,” said Matthew Keator, managing partner in the Keator Group, a wealth management firm in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Regarding US-China trade negotiations, Keator believes the worst may be over.

“Things had to get worse before they could get better,” Keator added. “With tariffs now in place, the administration has something to give up.”

Washington placed Huawei Technologies on a blacklist which bans it from acquiring components and technology from US firms without prior approval.

Shares of Huawei suppliers Qorvo, Skyworks Solutions, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Micron Technology lost ground.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index ended the session down 1.7

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