US stocks RISE on strong consumer confidence data

NEW YORK – Consumer and technology stocks, including Amazon, led gains on Wall Street on Tuesday (Sep 27), while a perceived win by Democrat Hillary Clinton in Monday’s first presidential debate gave broader support to equities.

The S&P 500 technology sector rallied 1.15 per cent, powered by a 1.85 per cent gain in Microsoft and a 1.08 per cent rise in Facebook. jumped 2.12 per cent and the consumer discretionary index gained 0.99 per cent after a report showed that the consumer confidence index for September rose to its highest level in nine years.

Following the first of three presidential debates on Monday, Republican candidate Donald Trump vowed to hit Clinton harder after she put him on the defensive.
With six weeks until the Nov 8 vote, some investors see the neck-and-neck contest sparking volatility in sectors including health insurers, drug manufacturers and industrials.

“From a market perspective, rightly or wrongly, there is an understanding that Mrs. Clinton would be a safe pair of hands, that there’s very little uncertainty there,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Still, shares of private prison operators Corrections Corp and Geo Group fell 7.39 per cent and 3.82 per cent respectively after Clinton criticised states’ use of for-profit prisons during the debate.

In their first increases in three sessions, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 133.47 points (0.74 per cent) to end at 18,228.30 and the S&P 500 gained 13.83 points (0.64 per cent) to 2,159.93. The Nasdaq Composite added 48,22 points (0.92 per cent) to 5,305.71.

The increase in the consumer confidence index also boosted shares of Coca-Cola Co, up 1.28 per cent, and Nike , which rose 1.73 per cent.

“Consumer stocks seem to be catching a bit after having a hard time for probably a month or two,” said Mark Spellman, portfolio manager at Alpine Funds in New York.

Oil prices plunged three per cent as hopes for a deal to cut output faded at major producers meeting in Algeria. The S&P 500 energy index fell 0.46 per cent.

Gilead Sciences was the top drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq, falling 1.70 per cent after Leerink downgraded the drugmaker’s stock to “market perform.”

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.42-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.92-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 82 new highs and 34 new lows.

About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, below the 6.9 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.
– Reuters