Wall Street Lifted by Gains in Oil, Technology Shares

(Reuters) – Wall Street was higher on Monday as U.S. crude hit $70 per barrel for the first time since late 2014, while shares of technology companies were lifted by Apple’s sixth day of gains.

The S&P energy index was the biggest gainer among the 11 major S&P sectors, rising 2.1 percent as oil prices were boosted by Venezuela’s deepening economic crisis and a looming decision on whether the United States will re-impose sanctions on Iran. [O/R]

Apple was up 1.9 percent, extending its gains since it reported results last week and after Berkshire Hathaway on Friday disclosed that it had boosted its stake in the iPhone maker. Warren Buffett told CNBC on Monday, “I’d love to own 100 percent of it.”

Data showing weaker-than-expected U.S. wage growth on Friday has allayed investor fears about rising interest rates and inflation, helping the S&P 500 bounce off its 200-day moving average, a technical level that indicates long-term trend.

“The market has stayed in this range for a while, maybe this is the higher end of it,” said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

“Interest rate movement makes people nervous and when it stops rising, people kind of migrate back to stocks. It is still at a point where it represents a more attractive alternative than bonds.”

Worries over higher borrowing costs, along with uncertainties around tariffs and geopolitical tensions have overshadowed a strong earnings season.

Nearly 80 percent of the 417 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, have topped profit estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. That is well above the long-term average of 64 percent and the average of 75 percent over the past four quarters.

At 11:20 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 194.04 points, or 0.80 percent, at 24,456.55, the S&P 500 was up 15.70 points, or 0.59 percent, at 2,679.12 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 68.58 points, or 0.95 percent, at 7,278.20.

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, the S&P technology index’s 1.1 percent gain providing the biggest boost to the S&P 500 index.

Shares of AthenaHealth jumped 18.5 percent after hedge fund Elliott Management proposed an all-cash offer that would value the healthcare IT company at about $6.5 billion.

Among decliners were the defensive sectors such as utilities, consumer staples and telecoms, all down between 0.37 percent and 0.7 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.96-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.92-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 21 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 93 new highs and 11 new lows.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)