July 24, 2018 / 11:33 AM / 25 days ago

S&P reaches highest level since February as Alphabet shares soar

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 on Tuesday closed at its highest level since Feb. 1 as Alphabet’s blowout results bolstered expectations of a robust earnings season.

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) shares touched a record high of $1,275.00 after the online search company’s quarterly results surpassed Wall Street estimates. The shares closed up 3.9 percent at $1,258.15.

Google’s parent company was the biggest boost to the S&P 500. Others in the FANG group of momentum stocks rose as well. Shares of Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Amazon Inc (AMZN.O) were up 1.8 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. Both companies report earnings later this week.

“We’ve seen some positive returns come in today,” said Emily Roland, head of capital markets research at John Hancock Investments in Boston. “Investors are able to focus on fundamentals again and look at what’s happening from an earnings standpoint.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 197.65 points, or 0.79 percent, to 25,241.94, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 13.42 points, or 0.48 percent, to 2,820.4.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 1.11 points, or 0.01 percent, to 7,840.77. It reversed course after having hit a record high earlier in the session.

So far in 2018, the Nasdaq has climbed 13.6 percent, more than twice the 5.5 percent gain of the S&P 500. Some investors said the Nasdaq’s reversal indicated some profit-taking driven by lingering concerns over trade issues. Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump extolled tariffs in a post on Twitter.

“It leads me to believe that underneath it all, investors are worried about the tariff situation and what the implications are going to be for corporate profits in the third quarter,” said Jim Awad, senior managing director at Hartland & Co in New York. “If you’re looking to raise cash because you’re uncertain, you take it where you have the biggest profits.”

Agriculture-related stocks gained on news that the Trump administration plans to announce aid for U.S. farmers to help protect them from potential impacts related to the trade war between the United States and other countries.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Deere & Co (DE.N) shares rose 3.2 percent, while shares of Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) advanced 1.2 percent. AGCO Corp (AGCO.N) shares edged up 0.6 percent.

Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG.N) climbed 7.7 percent after its profit beat estimates and the company forecast a lower-than-expected hit to margins from tariffs.

Whirlpool Corp (WHR.N) tumbled 14.5 percent to a more than two-year low after reporting weak quarterly results and cutting its full-year forecasts.

Shares of Biogen Inc (BIIB.O) rose 4.1 percent and Eli Lilly and Co shares (LLY.N) rose 5.0 percent after the companies reported strong results. Biogen shares touched their highest level in three years, while Lilly shares jumped to their highest level since 2000.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.07-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.08-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 32 new 52-week highs and four new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 118 new highs and 63 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.57 billion shares, compared to the 6.1 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Reporting by April Joyner; Additional reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Thomas and Phil Berlowitz

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