Wall Street advances as earnings season hits the road running

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By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street jumped on Tuesday as third-quarter reporting season kicked into high gear with a spate of upbeat earnings reports that brought buyers back to the equities market.

All three major U.S. stock indexes touched three-week highs, gaining more than 1% in a broad-based rally.

“It’s all going to be about earnings for the next couple of weeks and that’s a good thing,” said Oliver Pursche, chief market strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in New York. “These early beats are a very positive sign.”

Even so, Pursche warned that global headwinds persist.

“We’re likely to see corporate earnings and monetary policy helping to lift stocks, while geopolitical events will put pressure on stocks,” Pursche said. “As such, we’ll probably be in this trading range for some time.”

On the geopolitical front, investors welcomed news that Britain and the European Union could reach a deal in time for a leaders’ summit this week.

Major financial firms JPMorgan Chase & Co (N:), Citigroup Inc (N:), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (N:) and Wells Fargo & Co (N:) all posted results, as did healthcare giants Johnson & Johnson (N:) and UnitedHealth Group Inc (N:).

Among the big banks, JPMorgan Chase stock hit a record high after it handily beat estimates on bond trading and underwriting strength. Its shares were last up 3.6%.

Citigroup rose 2.0% following its profit beat.

Wells Fargo results were less upbeat, as its profit slid 26% due to sinking mortgage income and legal costs. Goldman Sachs’ profit miss was attributed to weak underwriting. Wells Fargo rose 2.8%, while Goldman gained 1.0%.

Prescription drug sales helped drive Johnson & Johnson’s upside surprise, while UnitedHealth raised its 2019 guidance on pharmacy benefit growth. Their shares were up 1.9% and 8.2%, respectively.

Analysts currently expect S&P 500 third-quarter earnings to have contracted by 3% from last year, down from the 12.1% growth seen a year ago, according to Refinitiv data.

Of the 34 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, 88.2% have come in above consensus estimates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average () rose 292.98 points, or 1.09%, to 27,080.34, the S&P 500 () gained 35.49 points, or 1.20%, to 3,001.64 and the Nasdaq Composite () added 114.98 points, or 1.43%, to 8,163.63.

Among the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, eight were in the black, with healthcare (), communications services () and financials () enjoying the largest percentage gains.

Blackrock Inc (N:), the world’s largest asset manager, beat analyst estimates on strong inflows into its fixed income and cash management business, sending its stock up 2.7%.

In other news, shares of Roku Inc (O:) surged 10.8% after the announcing Apple Inc’s (O:) TV app was available on its platform and Apple TV+ would be available after it was launched.

Bank of America (N:), expected to post results on Wednesday, rose 2.8% after a Bloomberg report that Warren Buffett’ Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:) was seeking permission from the Federal Reserve to boost his stake in the bank above 10%.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.28-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.92-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 36 new highs and 62 new lows.

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