US stocks close higher amid upbeat corporate earnings, mixed data

New York: US stocks traded higher as the market was underpinned by stronger-than-expected corporate earnings in the fourth quarter last year and investors digested a batch of mixed economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday increased 110.32 points, or 0.43 percent, to 26,026.32. The S&P 500 was up 19.20 points, or 0.69 percent, to 2,803.69, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 62.82 points, or 0.83 percent, to 7,595.35.

Shares of Dentsply Sirona dramatically rose nearly 17.7 percent around market close, after the US dental equipment maker posted strong fourth-quarter earnings and sales that beat market expectations.

Shares of Foot Locker also increased nearly 6 percent, after the US athletic footwear and apparel retailer posted fourth-quarter earnings results that topped market forecasts.

Eight of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors traded on a high note, with the real estate sector up over 1.8 percent, leading the winners among the groups.

On the economic front, the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index slightly bounced back to 93.8 in February, up from January’s low of 91.2 due to US government shutdown, the university said in a survey released on Friday.

However, the reading, as a key indicator to gauge consumer confidence in America, came shy of analysts’ forecasts for the month across the board.

The ISM Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) declined to 54.2 per cent in February, a decrease of 2.4 percentage points from the January reading of 56.6 percent, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said in its latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business released on Friday, indicating the country’s manufacturing activity growth shrank last month.

The index reached its lowest level of expansion since November 2016, which was mainly dragged by a slowdown in both production growth and employment growth in the month, according to the report.

The ISM PMI has been a key indicator of economic health for the manufacturing and service sectors. A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding, while below 50 percent indicates that it is generally contracting.

Despite his positive outlook on the US economy based on a strong labor market, the Fed Chair Jerome Powell stressed on Thursday night the necessity of being patient, due to “some crosscurrents and conflicting signals about the near-term outlook”.