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US open: Positive start on the Street as investors brush off geopolitical concerns

16/04/2018 15:27

(ShareCast News) - US trading started on a positive note on Wall Street on Monday as investors turned their attention to corporate earnings, putting geopolitical concerns to one side after the US-led airstrikes in Syria over the weekend. At 1500 BST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 had moved ahead 0.58% and 0.41%, respectively, while the Nasdaq had picked-up 0.14%. Over the weekend, the US, France and Britain launched more than 100 missiles targeting facilities linked to Syria's chemical weapons programme, in what was called a "one time shot" by the Pentagon - at least for now. Oanda analyst Craig Erlam said: "It was feared that a Western response could trigger an escalation in the region, further damaging relations with Russia in the process due to its backing of the Assad regime.

Instead, an apparent one-off limited strike by the three countries on chemical weapons sites in an attempt to prevent further attacks in the future has not yet stoked such fears and instead, investors appear relatively at ease. "Of course, we'll find out in the coming days just what the response to the strikes will be, assuming there will be any.

For now, investors appear at ease with the situation and as long as no further escalation occurs, attention may now switch to other matters such as first-quarter earnings season which got underway late last week." Earnings will be in focus again after JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Citigroup failed to impress last week with their numbers, however, Bank of America had picked up 0.34% to $29.82 after posting record net income for the first quarter. Elsewhere, US-listed shares of Shire, for which the boss of Japanese drugmaker Takeda is reportedly readying a £35bn bid, collected 0.87% in early trading after it said it had agreed to sell its oncology business to Servier for $2.4bn in cash. Gaming and Leisure Properties climbed 3.83% after Icahn Enterprises announced that its majority-owned Tropicana Entertainment had agreed to purchase GLP's real estate for $1.85 billion. Icahn also said it would merge its gaming and hotel business into Eldorado Resorts, up 14.85% itself. Navistar rose 5.5% after Volkswagen said it was mulling over the idea of increasing its stake in the company to more than 17%. NewLink Genetics dropped 13.76% after confirming it would not proceed as planned with a late-stage trial of its indoximod drug for advanced melanoma and WPP dropped 6.47% after its chief executive resigned after allegations of personal misconduct led to a probe being launched into the firm. Netflix is also due to release its latest earnings report after the close. There was also a fair bit of news due out on the data front, US retail sales reportedly grew for the first time this year as a better than expected rebound in March giving slight reassurance that a slowdown witnessed at the start of the year was an anomaly. Headline sales grew 0.6% month-on-month to $494.6bn in March, bouncing back from a 0.1% in February, the first month of growth since November which ended a three-month slide, the longest such slump in three years. Elsewhere, the New York Federal Reserve's Empire State Manufacturing index fell to 15.8 in April from 22.5 in March, nearly three whole index points below consensus estimates. Lastly, Builders' confidence in the market for new single-family homes maintained its high levels as the National Association of Home Builders' housing market index dipped to 69 in April from 70 in March. "Strong demand for housing is keeping builders optimistic about future market conditions," NAHB chairman Randy Noel said. "However, builders are facing supply-side constraints, such as a lack of buildable lots and increasing construction material costs.

Tariffs placed on Canadian lumber and other imported products are pushing up prices and hurting housing affordability," Noel added. In addition, investors will be eyeing a speech by Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic at the Shoals Chamber of Commerce in Florence, Alabama and an appearance by Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan at the International Economic Forum of the Americas' World Strategic Forum in Florida. Any headlines from the White House will also be watched after former FBI director James Comey said in an interview with ABC News over the weekend that Donald Trump was "morally unfit" to be president.

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