US stocks gain on better economic data
Wall Street, home of the New York Stock Exchange

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Wall Street stocks advanced yesterday following better-than-expected US economic data as markets monitored Georgia elections that will determine control of the US Senate.

Equities shrugged off early weakness and Monday's decline to finish the session solidly higher after manufacturing data topped estimates and fourth-quarter auto sales also impressed to the upside.

Petroleum-linked equities had a big day after a surprise agreement by oil exporters boosted crude prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6 per cent to 30,391.60.

The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 0.7 per cent to 3,726.86, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.0 per cent to 12,818.96.

The gains came after stocks pulled back Monday on worries that a Democratic sweep of the two Georgia Senate runoffs would clear the way for tax increases and other major legislative changes.

Investors are still on edge over the Georgia vote, but were encouraged by an Institute for Supply Management survey of manufacturers that topped expectations.

“This is the type of news that investors love to see,” said a note from economist Joel Naroff.

“The economy may not be able to stand on its own just yet, but it is inching its way to that point and with vaccinations beginning (though much too slowly), there is a light beginning to be seen as we move through the tunnel,” he said.

Among individual companies, General Motors jumped 2.8 per cent after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter car sales and offered an optimistic outlook for 2021.

Petroleum-linked equities surged as Saudi Arabia announced an unexpected production cut that boosted oil prices. Apache jumped 9.6 per cent and Halliburton surged 8.4 per cent.

Qualcomm rose 2.7 per cent after the chipmaker announced that Steve Mollenkopf would retire as chief executive and be replaced by President Cristiano Amon.

Dow member IBM climbed 1.9 per cent after the company appointed former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn as vice chairman. Cohn served as an economic policy advisor to outgoing President Donald Trump for the first year-and-a-half of his Administration.

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