Published: Wed, January 17, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Wall Street hits new highs but European stocks flat

Wall Street hits new highs but European stocks flat

HEALTHY QUARTER: UnitedHealth Group gained 1.9 percent after its said earnings more than doubled in the final quarter of 2017.

"The gains have been made thanks to optimism over the Republican tax cut bill and hopes it will boost corporate profits and provide a fresh spark to the economy", Cohen said.

The Dow industrials gained 159 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 25,958.

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More than three quarters of the 26 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far have topped profit estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Stocks have picked up where they left off in 2017, with investors piling into the market as Wall Street analysts are boosting their projections of how much money USA companies will make this year after Congress slashed the corporate tax rate late last year to 21% from 35%.

EARNINGS WATCH: Investors were watching for the impact of Washington's latest tax changes on US companies as earnings season for the final quarter of 2017 gets into full swing. S., with Merck up 6.5 percent and UnitedHealth up 2.3 percent.

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General Electric fell 2.9 percent after raising the prospect of breaking itself up and announcing more than $11 billion in charges from its long-term care insurance portfolio and new US tax laws. CBS rose $1.01, or 1.7 percent, to $59.84. Viacom fell $2.14 to $31.62.

Weaker Brent crude prices also weighed on the energy sector, while a slide in copper prices pulled BHP Billiton, Glencore, Rio Tinto and Anglo American down by between 1.4 and 3 per cent. Range Resources slid 71 cents, or 4 percent, to $16.87. Traders bid up shares in the drugmaker after it announced positive results from a clinical trial for a lung cancer treatment.

The U.S. stock and bond markets were closed on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady at 2.55 percent.

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Bitcoin tumbled 18 percent to a four-week trough close to $11,000, after reports that a ban on trading of cryptocurrencies in South Korea was still an option.

Tech stocks have been one of the major forces behind the Dow's record-setting gains. The blue chip FTSE 100 index ended down 0.28 per cent.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index rose to a record closing high, led by index heavyweight Tencent Holdings and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.

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