The major U.S. stock indexes finished sharply higher on Monday as tensions eased over an escalating conflict in Syria. The indexes were also underpinned by strong earnings reports from some of the biggest U.S. corporations.
In the cash market, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 2677.84, up 21.54 or +0.81%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 24573.04, up 212.90 or +0.87% and the tech-driven NASDAQ Composite finished at 7158.13, up 51.48 or +0.72%.
The Dow was driven higher by strong performances in the materials and telecommunications sectors. Individually, Merck was the biggest gainer in the average. Merck shares jumped 2.6 percent after the company said its cancer-treatment drug Keytruda reduced the risk of death in a trial by 51 percent when combined with chemotherapies, versus chemo alone.
Shares of pharmacies and drug distributors, including Cardinal Health, CVS, McKesson and Walgreens, spiked higher on Monday after Amazon Business shelved its plan to sell and distribute pharmaceutical products after considering it last year, according to people familiar with the matter.
Instead, the company is focused on selling to hospitals and smaller clinics through Amazon Business – and it found that business to be more challenging than expected.
Investors seemed to buy into the idea that the U.S.-led attack on Syria last Saturday morning (local time) was a one-and-done event. To recap, the U.S. military conducted precision missile strikes against the Syrian government as a response to a chemical attack carried out in the country. The attack was conducted in conjunction with France and the U.K.
The Pentagon described the U.S.-led strikes as a “justified, legitimate and proportionate response” to the Syrian regime’s continued use of chemical weapons. Although Syria and its allies, Russian and Iran, strongly protested the action, investors did not fear retaliation.
In other news, Bank of America reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings. The bank’s earnings were helped by loan growth and lower corporate taxes.
Investors have high expectations for this earnings season, with analysts expecting a 17.3 percent increase in first-quarter earnings, according to FactSet.
This article was originally posted on FX Empire
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