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Reuters: Wall Street higher on financials; Brent slides

Markets | Mon Dec 21, 2015 11:42am EST
Financial stocks led a cheerful start to the Christmas holiday week for the U.S. stock markets, rebounding from two days of losses, with investors taking in stride a slide in crude prices.
Trading volumes are expected to be relatively light this week, with stock markets operating a shortened session on Thursday and closing on Friday for Christmas.
U.S. stock indexes slumped on Thursday and Friday as weak crude prices dampened the optimism sparked by the first Federal Reserve interest rate hike in nearly a decade.
Oil prices have been sliding under continued pressure from global oversupply and tepid demand. [O/R]
“It’s going to be interesting to see if this market can hold up and divorce itself, at least for today, from the price of oil,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.
“We’re probably going to stay in the trading range, with an upward bias.”
At 11:03 a.m. ET (1603 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 85.25 points, or 0.5 percent, at 17,213.8, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 12.3 points, or 0.61 percent, at 2,017.85 and the Nasdaq Composite index .IXIC was up 33.26 points, or 0.68 percent, at 4,956.35.
Although the S&P 500 touched record highs in 2015, the index is down 2.6 percent for the year, buffeted by slowing growth in China, slump in commodities and uncertainty over U.S. interest rates. The Dow Jones industrial average is down 3.9 percent.
The Nasdaq Composite, which briefly breached its dotcom highs this year, is the only one of the three major indexes in the black, having risen 3.9 percent so far in 2015.
All 10 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 0.83 percent rise in the financial sector .SPSY. JPMorgan’s shares (JPM.N) were up 1.5 percent and provided the biggest boost.
Goldman Sachs (GS.N) was up 1.1 percent and gave the biggest push to the Dow.
Microsoft (MSFT.O) was up 0.9 percent at $54.98 – providing the biggest boost to the S&P and Nasdaq – after a Barron’s report on Sunday that the company’s shares could rise 30 percent over the next 18 months.
Disney (DIS.N) was down 1.6 percent at $106.02, wiping out earlier gains from the latest Star Wars instalment’s box office-breaking opening weekend.
“Investors are concerned with the other businesses within Disney, it’s not just Star Wars,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,117 to 816. On the Nasdaq, 1,776 issues rose and 909 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed two new 52-week highs and 11 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 27 new highs and 54 new lows.