Wall St lifts on positive data

Traders shake off Nasdaq trading halt as shares get boost from strong United States, China, eurozone data.

United States stocks closed higher, with blue chips snapping the longest losing streak in over a year, as investors shook off trading halts in all securities listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market due to technical issues that affected the major market indexes for most of the afternoon.

Nasdaq parent Nasdaq OMX Group announced the halts at 12:15 p.m. EDT (0215 AEST Friday morning). Notices sent to traders said the technical issues were related to data feeds providing market data for Nasdaq-listed securities. One stock, Atlantic American, began trading at 3 p.m. EDT, while full trading resumed at 3:25 p.m. Nasdaq OMX shares fell 3.4%.

During the halt period, the Nasdaq Composite Index remained frozen at 3,631.17, up 31.38, or 0.9%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded within a range of about 14,927 to 14,968, while the S&P 500-stock index held roughly within 1,652 to 1,656.

The halts also affected the calculation of the Dow, which include Nasdaq stocks Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Intel, and the S&P 500.

The Nasdaq rose 38.92 points, or 1.1%, to 3,638.71. The index added to gains after the halts were lifted.

The Dow rose 66.19 points, or 0.4%, to 14,963.74. It was the first gain for the blue chip index in seven sessions.

The S&P 500 advanced 14.16 points, or 0.9%, to 1,556.96.

Investors said stocks added to gains after trading resumed, largely out of relief that the issue was addressed the same day.

"Our initial read was that something was wrong, that something nefarious was up," Wells Fargo senior equity strategist Jim Russell said.

"As word leaked out that this was more of an IT glitch, we were somewhat relieved."

 JonesTrading chief market strategist Mike O'Rourke said the halts haven't affected traders' mindsets, as the market continued to rally.

"There's no major foul here," Mr O'Rourke said. "It just made a slow August day even slower."

But investors still expressed concern about how widespread the halts were. "We have the largest stock market in the world. This shouldn't happen," Mr O'Rourke said.

"We understand the halting of a stock. We don't understand the halting of an entire exchange," Wells Fargo's Mr Russell said.

Stocks bounced on Thursday, with the Dow ending its longest losing streak since July 2012, after upbeat economic readings from three continents helped divert attention from concerns that the Federal Reserve might reduce its stimulus efforts in the weeks ahead.

All 10 S&P 500 sectors rose, led by energy and industrials. Within the Dow, Alcoa and Microsoft paced advancers. Hewlett-Packard led the decliners, following the technology company's disappointing fiscal second-quarter results and current-quarter outlook, released late Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Dow fell 105 points to log a sixth-straight loss after minutes to the Fed's latest policy-setting meeting provided no new details on when the central bank will start dialling back its bond-buying programs, though many traders say this tapering is likely to start next month.

"Expectations are surely that we're going to see some tapering next month," RiverFront Investment Group quantitative analyst Robert Glownia said.

On Thursday, activity in the US factory sector rose to a five-month high, as employment and new orders gathered steam, according to an early reading of August activity released by Markit.

The latest reading on the labour market showed initial claims for jobless benefits increased more than expected in the most recent week, but remained near five-year lows. Separately, an index of leading economic indicators rose in July after a flat reading in June, according the Conference Board.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note recently rose to 2.901%, topping 2.9% for the first time since July 2011.

European markets rose after a report showed economic activity in the euro zone was accelerating. Markit's preliminary composite purchasing managers' index for August rose to top forecasts. The Stoxx Europe 600 gained 1%.

Asian markets finished mostly lower, but recovered from lows following better-than-expected manufacturing data from China. An initial reading of HSBC's August Purchasing Managers' Index unexpectedly showed improvement. China's Shanghai Composite slipped 0.3% but had been down as much as 0.5% intraday. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average pared an early 1.4% loss to finish with a decline of 0.4%.

October crude-oil futures climbed 1.1% to settle at $105.03 a barrel, while August gold futures gained less than 0.1% to $1,371.20 a troy ounce. The dollar gained ground against the yen but fell versus the euro.

Abercrombie & Fitch tumbled 18% after the teen-apparel retailer reported fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue well below expectations.

Sears Holdings slipped 8.2% after the department-store chain reported a wider-than-expected fiscal second-quarter loss, as sales fell and margins weakened.

GameStop rose 9% after the video game retailer's quarterly profit declined but topped analyst estimates, and the company issued upbeat earnings guidance for the full year and current quarter.

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