Defensive Sectors Lead Wall Street Higher

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U.S. stocks advanced on Tuesday (January 29), led by defensive sectors, in a sign the cash piles recently moving into the market are being put to use by cautious investors to pick up more gains.


The S&P 500 is on track to post its best monthly performance since October 2011 and its best January since 1997 as investors poured $55 billion (USD) in new cash into stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in January, the biggest monthly inflow on record.


The Dow Jones industrial average has been flirting with 14,000, a level it hasn't seen since October 2007.


Shares of Amazon.com jumped nearly 7 percent in extended trade after the world's largest Internet retailer posted fourth-quarter revenue that jumped 22 percent to $21.27 billion. The stock closed down 5.7 percent at $260.35 in regular trading.


Among rising defensive shares, which are companies relatively immune to economic swings, were drugmaker Pfizer, up 3.2 percent to $27.70 after posting earnings and AT&T, 1.6 percent higher at $34.68.


The top performing sectors on the S&P 500 were healthcare and telecom services, so-called defensive sectors, both up more than 1 percent.


The energy sector also advanced, on the back of strong earnings from Valero Energy Corp and a hedge fund move to break up Hess Corp to boost investor returns.


Valero shares jumped 12.8 percent to $43.77 and Hess gained 9 percent to $68.11.


The equity gains have largely come on a strong start to earnings season, though results were mixed on Tuesday with Pfizer rising but Ford Motor Co down after its report.


Both companies reported profits that topped expectations, but Ford also forecast a wider loss in its European segment. Ford dropped 4.6 percent to $13.14 as one of the biggest percentage losers on the S&P 500.


The Dow Jones industrial average was up 72.49 points, or 0.52 percent, at 13,954.42. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 7.66 points, or 0.51 percent, at 1,507.84. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.64 points, or 0.02 percent, at 3,153.66.


Thomson Reuters data showed that of the 174 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings this season, 68.4 percent have been above analyst expectations, which is a higher proportion than over the past four quarters and above the average since 1994.


(Video Source: Reuters)


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