U.S. Indexes Post Solid Gains Led by Strong Tech Sector Performance
The start of the Lunar New Year in Asia put the focus on the Australian markets early Tuesday with nearly all of the major Asian markets closed for the holiday. With capital flowing into Australian stocks, the ASX 200 Index settled at 6005.90, up 114.70 or 1.95%. In Japan, NIKKEI futures were lower at 20844.45, down 39.32 or -0.19%.
The catalyst driving the ASX 200 Index higher was a strong performance in the Australian banking sector. Australian banking stocks jumped after a special government-appointed inquiry into the country’s financial sector did not recommend breaking up any of the banks or interfering in the way they lend money.
Nonetheless, the so-called Royal Commission recommended measures that would subject regulators to a new oversight body and also overhaul the financial industry’s pay to remove conflicts of interest, Reuters reported.
Reserve Bank of Australia Keeps Rates on Hold
In other news from down under, the Reserve Bank of Australia ( RBA ) kept its benchmark cash rate unchanged at a record 1.5 percent. Policymakers also said in the central bank’s monetary policy statement that the outlook for global growth remained reasonable but downside risks have increased, CNBC reported.
“The trade tensions are affecting global trade and some investment decisions,” RBA Governor Philip Lowe said in the policy statement. “The central scenario is for the Australian economy to grow by around 3 percent this year and by a little less in 2020 due to slower growth in exports of resources.”
Tech Shares Lead U.S. Stocks Higher
The major U.S. stock indexes rose on Monday driven by a strong performance in the technology sector. Shares of Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet all finished at least 2 percent higher. However, in aftermarket trading, Alphabet shares fell 2 percent following the company’s release o f quarterly earnings .
Alphabet report ed better-than-expected fourth-quarter results across the board, but the stock still lost 3 percent after the closing bell, on continuing pressure on advertising prices and decreasing margins.
As of Monday’s close, more than 47 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly results. Of those companies, 68.5 percent have topped analyst expectations, according to FactSet.
Additionally, fourth-quarter earnings are up by 12.5 percent on a year-over-year basis after growing more than 20 percent in the first three quarters of 2018.
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