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Overnight Markets: Wall Street extends rally on earnings reports

Equities gained after home sales and Qualcomm’s forecast beat projections offsetting Japan’s credit downgrade and higher-than-estimated jobless claims.

 
Overnight Markets: Wall Street extends rally on earnings reports

US equities extended rally on Thursday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gaining a fifth day, as home sales and Qualcomm’s forecast beat projections, offsetting Japan’s credit downgrade and higher-than-estimated jobless claims.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up four points, or 0.04%, at 11,990. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index closed up three points, or 0.2%, at 1,299. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 16 points, or 0.6%, at 2,755.

Technology stocks were boosted after Microsoft surprised Wall Street with a better-than-expected profit, but its shares stayed flat. Netflix and Qualcomm also supported the Nasdaq, but disappointing results from blue chips AT&T and Procter & Gamble kept the Dow's advance in check. Netflix soared 15.2% and Teradyne jumped 11.8%. AT&T dropped 2.1%, while P&G lost 2.9%.

Qualcomm also helped lift the Nasdaq, rising 5.8% a day after it raised its outlook for second-quarter and full-year revenue.

Meanwhile, weekly initial jobless claims climbed to the highest level since late October while factory orders declined unexpectedly in December, the data showed. Separately, the National Association of Realtors said the number of Americans signing contracts to buy previously owned homes rose in December for a third month.

In current trading, Asian equities declined as Japanese banks dropped after Standard & Poor’s slashed the nation’s credit rating, and commodity shares fell.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.4% to 138 as of 10:17 a.m. Tokyo. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.9% and the Topix lost 1%, the steepest declined among benchmark equity indexes in the Asia-Pacific region. South Korea’s Kospi Index declined 0.2%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.5%. Shanghai Composite Index was trading 0.35% lower at 2740, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.6%.

In corporate news, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group sank more than 2% in Tokyo. BHP Billiton dropped 1.1% and Newcrest lost 3.6% in Sydney as oil and gold prices slumped.

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