10:48 am PDT, Friday, March 15, 2019
Photo: Richard Drew, AP
U.S. stocks moved broadly higher in afternoon trading Friday, putting the market on track for a strong finish to the week.
Investors are hoping to erase last week’s sharp drop, which marked the worst week of the year. Otherwise, it’s been a strong showing for stocks so far in 2019, with all the major indexes showing a gain of at least 10 percent.
Technology sector companies accounted for much of the rally, with Broadcom leading the way. The chip provider posted solid profits and issued an upbeat forecast. The gains helped push chipmakers broadly higher and were strong enough to outweigh declines in software firms Adobe and Oracle, which both fell on disappointing forecasts.
Financial and consumer stocks also helped lift the market. Morgan Stanley, cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty and Amazon notched gains.
Investors appear to be encouraged by reports that the U.S. and China could be making progress on critical negotiations aimed at resolving a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. China’s congress endorsed an investment law that aims to address complaints, particularly from the U.S., that China’s system is rigged against foreign companies. The U.S. has accused China of forcing companies to share technology in order to do business in the country.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 185 points, or 0.7 percent, to 25,895 as of 1:32 p.m. Eastern Time. The S&P 500 index gained 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq composite climbed 1 percent.
Major indexes in Europe rose. Stocks in Asia finished higher.
ANALYST’S TAKE: Although the S&P 500 could close at its high for the year Friday, global political turmoil, particularly over trade, still weighs on investors, said Katie Nixon, chief investment officer at Northern Trust Wealth Management.
“There’s so much importance placed on these geopolitical risks,” Nixon said. “They have to be resolved for the market to go forward.”
Nixon said that investors are more confident that the Federal Reserve will hold off on any action that could jeopardize economic growth. But they are still focused on getting past the uncertainty of a U.S.-China trade deal. The latest development is a sign of progress, she said, as is the United Kingdom’s move to try to delay its exit from the European Union.
“This sort of political chaos does cast a relative pall over global investors’ risk appetite,” she said.
BROADCOM BUMP: Chip provider Broadcom touched an all-time high after it reported a better-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter profit and told investors that it would return $12 billion to stockholders in 2019 through dividends and buybacks. The stock rose 9 percent.
CEO Hock E. Tan expects the chip business to hit a low in the second quarter and then notch growth during the second half of the year. That assessment helped give other chipmakers a lift. Intel added 1.9 percent and Nvidia gained 2.8 percent.
PRETTY PROFIT: Cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty beat Wall Street forecasts for all its key fourth-quarter measures, including profit and sales. The stock jumped 9.1 percent.
QUITTING FACEBOOK: Two longtime Facebook executives are resigning, following the social media company’s recent announcement that it will shift its corporate focus. The stock fell 2.5 percent.
Product chief Chris Cox is leaving after spending more than 10 years with the company. Chris Daniels, who had been overseeing Facebook’s encrypted messaging service WhatsApp, is also leaving.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg is shifting the company’s emphasis to private messaging from public sharing.
REGAINING ALTITUDE: Boeing shares recovered from an early slide to gain 2.5 percent after a report suggested the aircraft manufacturer will roll out a software fix for its 737 Max airplanes later this month.
The stock has been hammered this week after a 737 Max flown by Ethiopian Airlines crashed Sunday in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board. A similar Boeing flown by Lion Air crashed in Indonesia in October, killing 189 people.
The U.S. and other countries have since grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8.
Boeing shares are down 9.7 percent this week. The stock is up 18.4 percent for the year.
NOT IMPRESSED: Tesla slumped 5 percent following the electric car maker’s unveiling of its Model Y, a mid-size SUV that starts at $39,000. The unveiling comes as Tesla tries to expand into the mainstream and cash in on the red-hot market for SUVs.
BONDS: Investors bought bonds after a report on industrial production showed a second consecutive monthly decline in manufacturing in the U.S. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.59 percent from 2.63 late Thursday.