Wall St. gains across sectors ahead of Trump inauguration


By Yashaswini Swamynathan
U.S. stocks rose amid gains across sectors on Friday as investors counted down to Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.

Trump, a New York businessman and former reality TV star, is scheduled to be sworn in around midday by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in Washington.

Investors will focus on Trump’s inaugural speech to get more insight into his economic policies.

“All eyes will be on the content and style of Trump’s inauguration speech,” Morgan Stanley strategists led by Hans Redeker wrote in a note. “The more ‘Presidential’ this speech comes across, the better the outcome for markets.”

Trump’s campaign promises of tax and regulatory reforms and higher infrastructure spending had driven Wall Street to multiple highs post-election. However, the Trump trade has been unraveling in recent weeks as investors wait to see how he will carry out his ambitious plans.

“I would expect an extremely calm day,” said Brad Lamensdorf, chief executive officer of Active Alts Inc.

“Usually these type of events are highly publicized so people are very distracted during the day and I wouldn’t expect a lot of volatility.”

The CBOE Volatility index .VIX, or Wall Street “fear gauge”, was down nearly 3 percent.

The dollar index .DXY edged up for the third straight session, while a 2 percent rise in oil prices pushed up energy stocks.

At 9:36 a.m. ET (1436 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 109.18 points, or 0.55 percent, at 19,841.58 and the S&P 500 .SPX was up 12.86 points, or 0.57 percent, at 2,276.55.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 33.45 points, or 0.6 percent, at 5,573.53.

Ten of the 11 major S&P indexes were higher, with technology .SPLRCT giving the biggest bump to the broader index. Industrials .SPRLCI, which have risen for the past two days, were flat.

A thrush of quarterly earnings reports from Dow components also kept investors busy. Procter & Gamble (PG.N) was the top stock on the S&P and the Dow, rising 2.7 percent after the consumer products maker reported quarterly sales and profit above expectations.

General Electric (GE.N) was off 1.4 percent after the industrial conglomerate reported a drop in quarterly revenue.

Merck (MRK.N) rose 3.3 percent to $62.35 after Bristol-Myers (BMY.N) said it would not seek accelerated U.S. approval for a combination of its two immunotherapy drugs as an initial treatment for lung cancer, giving Merck an advantage in the lucrative market. Bristol-Myers’ stock was down about 10 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,890 to 670. On the Nasdaq, 1,520 issues rose and 685 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 11 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 20 new highs and five new lows.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)