Wall Street gains at end of turbulent 2018

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New York, Jan 1 (IANS) US stocks ended higher, wrapping up a pathetic 2018 amid the largest yearly fall over the past decade, although investors regained some optimism over the prospect of global trade in the year ahead.

Following solid gains throughout the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 265.06 points, or 1.15 percent, to 23327.46 on Monday. The S&P 500 was up 21.11 points, or 0.85 percent, to 2506.85. The Nasdaq Composite Index rallied 50.76 points, or 0.77 percent, to 6635.28, Xinhua news agency reported.

Shares of Netflix and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a US biotech firm, extended gains of 4.52 and 3 percent respectively, leading the advances. The currently-expanding Amazon also rose by 1.62 percent.

All the 11 primary S&P sectors traded higher, with the healthcare sector up 1.39 percent, leading the winners.

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Despite a green final trading day of the year, market jitters have been expected to remain, as the three major indexes recorded their worst year since the financial crisis in 2008.

The S&P 500 and the Dow declined for the first time in three years, posting a yearly decline of 6.2 percent and 5.6 percent respectively in 2018.

While the Nasdaq slumped after six years of consecutive rallies by 3.9 percent, its worst annual performance over the past decade.

Yet investors have restored some confidence in the continuously volatile U.S. equity market on Monday amid signs of global trade tensions’ defuse and anticipation of upcoming remarks from US Federal Reserves’ Chairman Jeremy Powell next year.

Among the latest signs of easing US-China trade frictions, China has recently released a draft foreign investment law to solicit public opinions until Feb. 24.

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The draft legislation includes a series of terms aimed at improving investment environment and providing legal protection for overseas investors operating in China.

In particular, the draft law clarifies that “government departments and officials cannot use administrative means for forced technology transfers,” which has been a major worry for foreign companies in China.

Investors are also looking to signals of shoring up the U.S. economy from the remarks that the Fed chairman is scheduled to deliver next month on the U.S. central bank’s monetary policy-setting in 2019.

Previously, the Fed signalled that it would slow the tightening pace on Dec. 19, as it revised the times of rate hikes in 2019 lower to two.

–IANS

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