Earnings and corporate deals lift US stocks

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 22, 2014 at 4:09 pm •  Published: April 22, 2014
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NEW YORK (AP) — Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

Allergan surged after Valeant Pharmaceuticals said it had teamed up with activist investor Bill Ackman to make a bid for the Botox maker. Netflix and Harley-Davidson rose sharply after reporting earnings that beat analyst's expectations.

Stocks are rebounding from a slump earlier this month when investors dumped high-flying biotechnology and Internet stocks. The gains over the past week have been driven by a combination of better economic news and respectable, if not spectacular, earnings reports.

"We were definitely oversold, there's no question about that," said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors. "Earnings, by and large, haven't been worse than we thought and the economic news has actually been a little better."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.66 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,879.55. The six consecutive gains in the index marks the longest winning streak since September.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 65.12 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,514.37. The Nasdaq composite gained 39.91 points, or 1 percent, to 4,161.46.

Allergan rose the most in the S&P 500, climbing $21.65, or 15.2 percent, to $163.65. Health care stocks rose 1.04 percent, the biggest gain of the 10 sectors that make up the S&P 500 index.

There was also deal news in the health care industry from Europe. Swiss pharmaceutical maker Novartis AG unveiled a series of multibillion-dollar deals with Britain's GlaxoSmithKline PLC and the U.S.'s Eli Lilly & Co.

The announcements helped drive some speculative buying.

"Whenever there are mergers, people start looking for other potential merger candidates," said John Carey, a portfolio manager at Pioneer Investments. "So it usually drives some other stocks up."

Overall, first-quarter earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to fall 0.8 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, and growth of almost 8 percent in the fourth quarter, according to S&P Capital IQ data.

While that would be the first decline in earnings since the third quarter of 2009, analysts had been expecting worse. So far, about 65 percent of companies that have reported their earnings have exceeded analysts' forecasts.

"It is a familiar dance," said Federated's Orlando. "Managements have gotten very adept at doing this: lowering the bar and essentially engineering a modest positive surprise."

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