Wall Street stocks surge on optimism from China data, bank earnings

Wall Street edged higher Tuesday morning after China’s slowest annual growth rate in 25 years raised hopes of further stimulus measures from Beijing, and on strong earnings reports from Bank of America and Morgan Stanley.

China’s 2015 growth hit 6.9 percent after the fourth quarter slowed to 6.8 percent, capping a tumultuous year in which concerns about Beijing ability to rebalance the slowing economy have rattled investors across markets.

“By no means is this indicative of the worst is over,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

“We’ve had a very erratic, choppy start to the year and the China news is going to give investors a reason to do some short covering and something to hang their hats on,” he said.

Wall Street is coming off a massive selloff on Friday that saw the S&P 500 sinking to its lowest since October 2014.

At 9:39 a.m. ET (14:39 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 159.64 points, or 1 percent, at 16,147.72.

The S&P 500 was up 17.12 points, or 0.91 percent, at 1,897.45 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 42.18 points, or 0.94 percent, at 4,530.60.

Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, led by the 1.36 percent rise in consumer staples stocks. P&G was the biggest influence on the sector.

Bank of America rose 2 percent to $14.75 and Morgan Stanley jumped 3.9 percent to $26.95 after the Wall Street banks reported better-than-expected quarterly profits.

The results also boosted Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo by about 1.5 percent. The financial sector was up 0.61 percent.

P&G rose 1.1 and McDonald’s was up 1.6 percent after brokerages upgraded both stocks.

UnitedHealth was up 2.4 percent at $111.91, giving the biggest boost to the Dow, after the health insurer reported a 30 percent rise in quarterly revenue.

Investors will scrutinize corporate earnings reports for a bearing on the impact of the global slowdown on results. S&P 500 companies are expected to report a 4.7 percent drop in quarterly profit, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Tiffany was down nearly 4 percent at $65 after the upscale jeweler said holiday season sales fell 6 percent.

IBM and Netflix are scheduled to report results after the close.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,888 to 920. On the Nasdaq, 1,594 issues rose and 825 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed no new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded one new high and 41 new lows.

Source: Reuters