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Friday 21

September, 2018 2:35 AM



Wall St rises with healthcare rally

Wall St rises with healthcare rally

Wall Street has ended the week higher, boosted by gains in healthcare stocks as the US administration avoided taking aggressive measures to cut high prices.

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By AAP 12.05.2018 07:52 AM

The S&P 500 has risen, helped by healthcare stocks after President Donald Trump blasted high drug prices but avoided taking aggressive measures to cut them.

Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer each rose over one per cent while Merck & Co jumped 2.8 per cent after Trump in a speech said foreign governments "extort" unreasonably low prices from US drug makers.

His healthcare deputies released a series of proposals to address high drug costs.

"They've walked the tightrope between cost savings for the American people and maximising profits for publicly traded healthcare stocks," said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The S&P healthcare index ended 1.47 per cent higher, while the Nasdaq Biotechnology index rallied 2.68 per cent.

The tech sector slipped 0.32 per cent, with Apple dropping 0.38 per cent after a nine-day winning streak that saw the iPhone maker edge closer to $US1 trillion in market capitalisation.

Also weighing on tech was Nvidia, which fell 2.15 per cent on worries that a short-term surge in demand for graphics chips from crypto-currency miners may be undermining the company's core business with computer gamers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.37 per cent to end at 24,831.17 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.17 per cent to 2,727.72, its highest close since mid-March. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.03 per cent to 7,402.88.

For the week, the Dow rose 2.3 per cent, the S&P 500 added 2.4 per cent, and the Nasdaq climbed 2.7 per cent.

During Friday's session, the Dow edged above 100-day moving average for the first time since April 18, following the S&P 500's similar move a day earlier. Some traders believe such developments mean the market is likely to move higher.

With March-quarter reports mostly wrapped up, S&P 500 companies appear to have grown their earnings per share by 26 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Due to increased expectations for corporate profits and a dip in stock prices since January, the S&P 500 is now trading at 16 times expected earnings, its lowest multiple in two years, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.

"We have very strong fundamentals from an earnings perspective and valuations are looking a bit more reasonable than they were late last year," said Bill Northey, senior vice president at US Bank Wealth Management.

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