Strong retail earnings help Wall Street bounce off lows

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(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose from their session lows on Wednesday as gains in online travel company Booking Holdings and retailer TJX helped offset losses in healthcare stocks.

Booking Holdings (BKNG.O), formerly known as Priceline, rose 7.7 percent after reporting upbeat quarterly profit, helped by higher hotel bookings.

Off-price apparel seller TJX (TJX.N) jumped about 10 percent after posting upbeat same-store sales. Their shares along with those of big tech companies helped lift the S&P 500.

About 76 percent of the S&P 500 companies that have reported so far have topped profit estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. That is above the average 72 percent recorded in the past four quarters.

“There is positive economic fundamentals and corporate earnings. While valuations are somewhat elevated, they are not at extremes,” said Bill Northey, senior vice president, U.S. Bank Wealth Management, in Helena, Montana.

At 12:35 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 0.15 percent at 25,371.62.

The S&P 500 .SPX rose 0.03 percent to 2,745 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 0.16 percent to 7,341.95.

Celgene’s 8 percent drop (CELG.O) was a drag on the healthcare sector after U.S. health regulators rejected the company’s application seeking approval of a multiple sclerosis drug.

Wall Street opened higher after the government revised lower its reading on economic activity in the fourth quarter to 2.5 percent. A regional gauge on U.S. Midwest factory activity fell more than forecast in February, while pending home sales unexpectedly declined in January.

The latest set of data weakened the case for a faster interest rate hikes, fears of which had led to a selloff earlier in February and set up the S&P and the Dow for their first monthly declines in 11 months.

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yields US10YT=RR, the benchmark for global borrowing costs, was last at 2.8806 percent, while the CBOE Volatility index .VIX, a measure of short-term stock market volatility, was near a session high of 18.46.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,427 to 1,405. On the Nasdaq, 1,462 issues fell and 1,359 advanced.

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



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