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US stocks soar, S&P 500 at five-month high

US stocks rose slightly on Friday, putting the S&P 500 at its highest closing level in more than five months, as gains in industrials and other areas offset a drop in financials after results from three of the big banks mostly disappointed.

The CBOE Volatility Index closed at its lowest level since June 15.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 94.52 points, or 0.38 percent, to 25,019.41, the S&P 500 gained 3.02 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,801.31 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.06 points, or 0.03 percent, to 7,825.98.

The S&P 500 posted its highest closing level since Feb. 1. The index is now just 2.5 percent from its Jan. 26 record closing high and up 4.8 percent for the year so far.

Investors are expected to keep a close eye on trade talk between the United States and China. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the United States and China could reopen trade talks if Beijing was willing to make significant changes.

Netflix Inc sank 4.3 percent after Deutsche Bank warned the company could fall short of subscriber growth numbers when it reports results on Monday.

Johnson & Johnson dropped 1.4 percent after a jury ordered it to pay a record $4.69 billion to 22 women who alleged its talc-based products contain asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

AT&T Inc’s shares fell 1.7 percent on the U.S. Justice Department’s plan to appeal a federal judge’s approval of the company’s already closed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.01-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.22-to-1 ratio favored decliners. The S&P 500 posted 38 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 93 new highs and 40 new lows.

KSE-100 index gains as bank stocks rally

The KSE-100 ignored intense scenes in the political arena with investors focusing on economic fundamentals and attractive valuations, carrying the index past the 40,000-point mark and achieving a fourth successive positive finish.

Banking scrips led the rally ahead of the monetary policy announcement where a rate hike is near certain.

Despite the pending arrival of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, trading kicked off on a positive note. The index steadily climbed throughout the day, with bank and automobile stocks leading the charge.

At close, the KSE-100 finished with an increase of 395.88 points or 0.99% to settle at 40,271.00.

Overall, trading volumes increased to 124.7 million shares compared with Thursday’s tally of 108.9 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs5.7 billion.

Shares of 339 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 190 stocks closed higher, 128 declined while 21 remained unchanged.

Bank of Punjab was the volume leader with 18.7 million shares, gaining Rs0.66 to close at Rs12.14. It was followed by Engro Polymer (R) with 5.5 million shares, losing Rs0.34 to close at Rs5.81 and K-Electric with 5.4 million shares, gaining Rs0.05 to close at Rs5.30.


Britain’s FTSE off highs as sterling boost softens

Britain’s top share index ended off earlier highs on Friday, as the pound recovered after Donald Trump said he looked forward to finalising a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain.

The US President’s remarks curbed gains for the FTSE to 0.1 percent. The index, which is heavy on companies with foreign currency revenues, was earlier up as much as 0.8 percent after a Trump interview that appeared to dismiss hopes of a US-British trade deal, depressing the pound.

As sterling reduced its losses, the FTSE’s dollar-earnings constituents such as consumer stocks Diageo, British American Tobacco and Unilever came off highs. BAT and Unilever ended little changed.

Worries over global trade have kept the FTSE trading in a narrow range throughout June and into July, as investors have weighed the implications for global growth and equity markets of tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by the United States and China.

For the week, the FTSE rose 0.6 percent.

While the corporate earnings season has yet to get properly under way in Europe, a few British companies saw their shares move on the back of updates.

DCC was a top gainer, up 3.6 percent after the support services company’s first quarter trading update, in which it reaffirmed its full year guidance.

Investors were cheered after Hays said that it expected its full-year operating profit to exceed market expectations, with analysts at Jefferies noting that the company was also on track for a special dividend.

Australian shares higher, NZ breaches 9,000

Australian shares are set to rise on Friday, backed by robust commodity prices as well as a technology-led rally on Wall Street, with investors looking past recent trade war concerns to earnings optimism in the United States.

Strength in global oil, iron ore and base metals prices could help resource stocks lead the climb on the Australian benchmark.

The Australian local share price index futures rose 0.4 percent, or 24 points, to 6,241, a 27.3-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index close. The benchmark rose 0.9 percent on Thursday.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.3 percent or 29.69 points higher to 9,015.16 at 1006 GMT.

Tokyo stocks higher

Tokyo stocks opened higher on Friday helped by a cheaper yen and rebounds on US markets. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 0.70 percent, or 155.39 points, to 22,343.35 in early trade, while the broader Topix index was up 0.56 percent, or 9.51 points, at 1,719.19.

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