US stocks post solid weekly gains amid earnings, data

NEW YORK (Xinhua) – United States (US) stocks posted solid weekly gains as investors digested the latest corporate earnings reports as well as key economic data.

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.3 per cent, the S&P 500 Index climbed 1.6 per cent, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.4 per cent.

On the earnings front, Amazon reported fourth-quarter earnings that far exceeded analysts’ estimates on Thursday after market close.

The company registered earnings per share of USD6.04 on revenue of USD72.4 billion. The net sales of Amazon Web Services reached USD7.43 billion.

For the full year of 2018, Amazon’s net sales increased 31 per cent to USD232.9 billion.

General Electric reported mixed quarterly earnings with revenue beating Wall Street estimates and earnings falling short of forecast. It reported adjusted earnings per share of USD0.17 on revenue of USD33.28 billion. The company’s shares surged 11.65 per cent to close at USD10.16 apiece on Thursday.

Facebook posted earnings per share of USD2.38 on revenue of USD16.91 billion, topping Wall Street estimates.

The website registered daily active users of 1.52 billion on average for December 2018, an increase of nine per cent year over year. Its monthly active users were 2.32 billion for December 2018, also an increase of nine per cent year over year.

Boeing, a constituent of the Dow, reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share of USD5.48 dollars and revenue of USD28.3 billion, far exceeding analysts’ estimates. Its shares surged 6.25 per cent to close at USD387.72 on Wednesday.

Shares of Apple rose 6.83 per cent on Wednesday after its earnings report came out a little better than expected.

The company registered earnings per share of USD4.18 and revenue of USD84.3 billion.

However, the company saw a sharp decline in its iPhone revenue, which raised investors’ concerns.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer reported fourth-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street’s estimates. It reported earnings per share of USD0.64 and revenue of USD13.97.

For the full year of 2018, the company reported adjusted earnings per share of USD3 and revenue of USD53.6 billion.

For 2019, Pfizer projected adjusted earnings per share to range from USD2.82 to USD2.92 and revenue to range between USD52 billion and USD54 billion, both lower than analysts’ estimates.

3M, Allergan, Verizon and Biogen were among the companies that posted better-than-expected earnings on Tuesday.

Caterpillar shares plunged on Monday after the industrial giant posted weaker-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter.

The construction machinery company reported quarterly revenue of USD14.3 billion, and earnings per share of USD1.78. It also provided a weak earnings outlook for 2019 as the company expects full-year earnings per share to reach a range of USD11.75 to USD12.75.

Caterpillar is considered a bellwether for global trade given the company’s exposure to overseas markets.

Meanwhile, Nvidia shares sank nearly 14 per cent after the chipmaker cut its revenue guidance for the fourth quarter from USD2.7 billion to USD2.2 billion.

The company attributed weaker guidance to deteriorating macroeconomic conditions.

On the data front, the US consumer confidence index hit 120.2 in January, down from 126.6 in December, according to the Conference Board’s monthly survey.

Senior Director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board Lynn Franco said while economic conditions remained favourable, expectations declined sharply as financial market volatility and the government shutdown appeared to have had an impact on consumers.

Job growth in January beat expectations with total nonfarm payrolls increasing by 304,000 despite the partial government shutdown, the Labour Department said on Friday.

Job gains occurred in several industries, including leisure and hospitality, construction, health care, and transportation and warehousing, the department said. It added that the unemployment rate edged up to four per cent.