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US STOCKS-Nasdaq snaps four-day losing streak as health stocks rebound
May 1, 2015 / 4:28 PM / 3 years ago

US STOCKS-Nasdaq snaps four-day losing streak as health stocks rebound

* Gilead leads as biotechs ends 5-day losing streak

* Tech stock snap two-day losing streak

* Yum hits record after Loeb reveals stake

* Consumer sentiment, auto sales rise

* Indexes up: Dow 0.5 pct, S&P 0.5 pct, Nasdaq 0.5 pct (Changes comment, updates prices)

By Tanya Agrawal

May 1 (Reuters) - Wall Street was higher at midday on Friday, with the Nasdaq recording gains for the first time this week, as healthcare and technology stocks rebounded, and as data pointed to a pick-up in economic activity.

A majority of the 10 major S&P indexes were higher, with both the health and tech indexes moving up after two days of losses. The Nasdaq biotech index was up 2.6 percent, ending a 5-day losing streak.

Gilead led the gains on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 with a 4.4 percent increase to $104.90. The company’s quarterly profit nearly doubled, driven by strong sales of its hepatitis C drugs. Apple rose 0.8 percent to $126.13.

“Its a new month and big institutional investors that allocate on a monthly basis are still moving money into the market,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

Investors also welcomed an encouraging batch of data for April that suggested the economy was pulling out of a first-quarter soft patch.

Consumer sentiment jumped and vehicle sales were stronger-than-expected in April, while manufacturing expansion in the month held steady at near a two-year low.

“Certainly, the first quarter was slow,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

“We anticipate a little bit of a pick up in the second and third quarter. Its not going to be enough to warrant the Fed to raise rates but its certainly not weak enough to push us into recession.”

At 12:08 p.m. EDT (1608 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was up 91.98 points, or 0.52 percent, at 17,932.5, the S&P 500 was up 9.69 points, or 0.46 percent, at 2,095.2 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 22.96 points, or 0.46 percent, at 4,964.38.

Railcar makers gained after the United Stated and Canada announced new tougher oil-train safety standards that included rules to phase out older tank cars in three years.

Greenbrier gained 5 percent to $60.59, while Trinity Industries rose 3.7 percent to $28.10. American Railcar was up 2.4 percent at $54.33.

Yum Brands jumped 5.5 percent to hit a record high of $90.70 after Daniel Loeb’s Third Point revealed a stake in the company and said the KFC-owner had “turned the page” on its China troubles and forecast a dramatic profit recovery.

LinkedIn shares slumped 20.9 percent to $199.37, a day after the professional social network operator slashed its full-year profit forecast.

EnerNOC soared 20.7 percent to $13.40 after the maker of software to regulate power said it partnered with Tesla in its new battery pack venture.

Expedia gained 7.6 percent to $101.39 after its quarterly profit beat analysts’ expectations.

S&P 500 earnings for the first quarter now are expected to have risen 1.1 percent, Thomson Reuters data showed, while revenue is expected to have fallen 3.2 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,469 to 1,441, for a 1.02-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,397 issues fell and 1,227 advanced for a 1.14-to-1 ratio favoring decliners. (Editing by Savio D‘Souza)

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