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Bumper finish to the week

Stocks with heavy overseas earnings will benefit from the dollar's slide to levels last seen in November
Crumpled dollar
The greenback was looking a bit shop-worn

Stocks ended the week on a high note, with the S&P 500’s rise in double figures and the Dow’s in triple.

The S&P closed at 2,381, up 16 points and the Dow at 20,805, up 142.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX Composite advanced 181 points to close at 15,458.

1.15pm: Stocks rise as dollar slumps

The US dollar fell further today, hitting its lowest point since November.

The decline reflected unease about the political situation in Washington, but equity investors appeared to have put that behind them, with the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones average both up 0.8%.

The S&P 500 was 20 points higher at 2,386 while the Dow Jones was 165 points better at 20,827.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX Composite index was going even better, rising 155 points to 15,433 as commodity prices - quoted in US dollars - hardened.

“The political situation in the US isn’t any clearer, and traders are treating this situation as no news, is good news,” suggested David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets..

“The volatility index (VIX) has cooled considerably since the official closing bell in New York last night, and that is being replicated in the equity benchmarks. Investors love any opportunity to buy relatively cheap stocks and now that a lot of the fear has disappeared, the bargain hunters are moving in,” he added, albeit with a caveat ….

“The moves we have witnessed in the past few days should not be forgotten about so quickly, as this scandal surrounding Mr Trump hasn’t gone away, it has just cooled off slightly.”

Computer-aided design software group Autodesk Inc (NASDAQ:ADSK) climbed 16% to US$111.03, as it confirmed its transition to a software-as-a-service model was going well.

Having said that, it still made a loss of 16 cents in the first quarter but that was not as bad as analysts had feared; the market consensus forecast was for a loss of 24 cents.

10.15: Dow Jones up 99 points after stronger than expected start

Stocks started on the front foot, continuing yesterday’s rally.

After 45 minutes of trading the Dow Jones was closing in on a triple-digit gain, up 99 points at 20,763, and the S&P 500 was 16 points to the good at 2,381.

It was not all happy days for everyone, however.

On the New York Stock Exchange Foot Locker Inc (NYSE:FL) was the second worst performer, shedding 11.3% as investors reacted adversely to last night’s trading update.

Net income for the company's first quarter ended April 29, 2017 was US$180 million, or US$1.36 per share, compared with net income of US$191 million, or US$1.39 per share in the same period of 2016.

Topping the NYSE leader board was Vince Holding Corp (NYSE:VNCE), up 43%, as the luxury clothing and accessories brand revealed Sun Capital Partners had agreed to pump US$40mln into the company through a rights issue.

On the Nasdaq, Penntex Midstream Partners LP (NASDAQ:PTXP) shot up 19.3% to USR19.88 on the back of a decision by Energy Transfer Partners to offer US$20 a share for the Penntex shares it currently does not own - which is about two-thirds of them.

Market Preview

After the mini-panic earlier this week, markets seem to have settled down with the so-called “fear index” - the Vix - off the boil.

European markets were on the rise in the morning session, and ahead of the start of trading US investors also looked to be in the mood to dip their toe back into equities on Friday.

Spread betting quotes indicated the benchmark S&P 500 would open some five points higher at 2,371 while the Dow was expected to almost (but not quite) recover to 20,700 after closing last night at 20,663.

On the corporate front, shares in agricultural equipment king Deere & Company (NYSE:DE) were dearer in pre-market trading after fiscal second quarter earnings topped expectations.

The shares were almost 7% firmer at US$120.20 after the company posted earnings per share of US$2.49, well above the market consensus of US$1.70.

Revenue of US$7.23bn was also ahead of expectations of US$7.24bn.

Fashion firm Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS) sashayed 4.1% higher to US$24.15 after its quarterlies provided some much needed cheer for the gloomy retail sector.

It was the cheap and cheerful Old Navy fascia that did the business, rather than the flagship chain, with Old Navy’s like-for-like (LFL) sales up 8% year-on-year - well ahead of expectations of a 2.2% rise.

Old Navy’s sales spurt was not enough for the group as a whole to show an improvement in LFL sales; the entire group’s same-store sales were down 6% on a year earlier.

Sector peer Foot Locker Inc (NYSE:FL) provided a downbeat contrast with a 6% year-on-year decline in first quarter earnings.

The shares were down 10% in pre-market trading.

Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPB) was also in hot water after it posted a 2% decline in fiscal third quarter earning.

The shares were not exactly simmering - more cooling down at US$54.50, down US$2.44.

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