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US stocks rally as markets eye French elections

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By Agence France-Presse

Wall Street stocks scored large gains Thursday, with the Nasdaq finishing at a fresh record on revived hopes about US tax cuts under President Donald Trump and greater economic optimism following solid earnings.

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 9, 2016 shows the the Wall street sign near the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Wall Street stocks dipped early Wednesday in choppy trading following Donald Trump's shock win in the US presidential election, as hopes of a pro-business agenda partially blunted the higher uncertainty. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith | Manila Bulletin

AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith | Manila Bulletin

US stocks have been pressured over the last month or so as the Trump economic agenda has languished and worries about Syria, North Korea and the French presidential election have come to the forefront.

But US stocks shook off those doubts. French stocks also scored strong gains, while markets in London, Frankfurt and Tokyo treaded water.

A batch of largely positive earnings reports and a more upbeat tone from executives boosted confidence in US growth.

”Not only have the earnings been good, but there’s a good picture being painted by the CEOs,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.

Analysts also pointed to remarks from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressing confidence in enacting tax cuts this year.

”What Mnuchin said is what the markets have been wanting to hear,” Kinahan said. ”Him giving that ounce of hope was great.”

Kinahan said confidence action from Washington can be ephemeral and rumor-based, but that there remains an underlying sense that
”something is going to get done” on taxes, the key to stock market rallies since Trump’s election.

The Nasdaq finished at 5,916.78, up 0.9 percent, and about two points higher than the prior record set in March. Nasdaq companies with gains over one percent included Apple, Facebook, Netflix and Starbucks.

The French CAC also had a good day, winning 1.5 percent as a batch of polls showed centrist Emmanuel Macron in first place, increasing confidence he will make the run-off after Sunday’s vote.

But equity markets in Tokyo, London and Frankfurt were flat ahead of Sunday.

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