Belfast Telegraph

Technology companies and banks take US stocks higher

US stocks rose on Monday as big technology companies like Apple continued to rally.

Investors bought stocks and sold bonds and gold after Congress agreed to a deal that will keep the government operating for the rest of the fiscal year.

Technology companies have set the pace all year and are up more than twice as much as the rest of the market.

Apple and Facebook, which will report their first-quarter results in the next few days, helped lead the way.

Investors were relieved that the threat of a government shutdown appears to have been averted, so they bought riskier stocks and sold government bonds, gold, and high-dividend stocks.

Technology companies and banks have stood out in the first quarter, said David Schiegoleit, the head of investments at US Bank's Private Client Reserve.

He said many different types of technology companies are doing well, especially ones that cater to consumers.

A key reason is that after years of trouble, economies outside the US are improving.

"Emerging market economies are starting to get better momentum and we're also starting to see some pretty decent activity out of Europe," he said.

"All the different major components of the technology sector are posting double-digit (earnings) gains."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index picked up 4.13 points, or 0.2%, to 2388.33.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 27.05 points, or 0.1%, to 20913.46 as Boeing and IBM lagged.

Thanks to the gains for technology companies, the Nasdaq composite rose 44 points, or 0.7%, to 6091.60, and set another record high.

The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks gained 6.93 points, or 0.5%, to 1407.36.

Analysts expect first-quarter earnings for technology companies and banks to rise 19% from the same period a year earlier, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

While most banks have already released their results, there are dozens of technology companies remaining to report.

Apple climbed 2.95 US dollars (£2.29), or 2.1%, to 146.60 dollars (£113.77) and Facebook added 2.21 dollars (£1.72), or 1.5%, to 152.46 dollars (£118.31).

Microsoft, which disclosed its earnings last week, rose 95 cents (£0.74), or 1.4%, to 69.41 dollars (£53.86).

Consumer-focused companies also rose, as online retailer picked up 23.44 dollars (£18.19), or 2.5%, to 948.43 dollars (£736.02).

Before dawn on Monday, Congress unveiled a spending bill that would fund most government operations through September.

The House is currently scheduled to vote on the bill on Wednesday.

The bill does not include the border wall President Donald Trump has proposed, and rejects his proposed cuts to popular domestic programmes.

Benchmark US crude fell 49 cents (£0.38), or 1%, to 48.84 dollars (£37.90) a barrel in New York.

Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 53 cents (£0.41), or 1%, to 51.52 dollars (£39.98) a barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 111.83 yen from 111.44 yen. The euro advanced to 1.0906 dollars from 1.0895 dollars.

Many markets in Asia and Europe were closed for May Day.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 was an exception and it gained 0.6%.

Stocks in Japan were helped by a weaker yen and strong readings in a manufacturing survey.