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US stocks log longest winning streak in six months

 • NEW YORK


The stock market logged its lon­gest winning streak in six months yesterday, as another big week for company earnings began.

Oil and gas drilling company Halliburton rose after reporting a first-quarter profit on rising revenue in the Middle East and Asia. Toymaker Hasbro gained after saying it returned to profitability in its first quarter. A strong ear­nings report from Netflix pushed the company’s stock higher in after-hours trading.

Close to a third of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index are scheduled to report first-quarter earnings this week, giving investors a better picture about the outlook for demand after the economy’s winter slump. Stocks logged their best weekly gain since July last week as companies started reporting their earnings.

“I like what I see in the market,” said Karyn Cavanaugh, a senior market strategist with ING US Investment Management. “It’s all going to be about earnings, because earnings are the driver of the market in the long run.”

The S&P 500 index rose 7.04 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 1,871.89. The index has risen five straight days, its longest streak of gains since October.

The Dow Jones industrial ave­rage climbed 40.71 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 16,449.25. The Nasdaq composite gained 26.03 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 4,121.55.

Halliburton rose US$2.02, or three per cent, to US$62.92 after the company turned a profit in the first quarter following a loss in the same period a year ago. Last year the company set aside money for litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

 Hasbro rose US$1.05, or 1.9 per cent, to US$55.66 after its earnings came in higher than investors were expecting, driven by sales of girls’ toys such as My Little Pony and Nerf Rebelle.

Stocks also got a lift from an encouraging economic report.

An index designed to predict future economic growth rose in March for the third month in a row, an encouraging sign after harsh winter weather slowed down the US economy.

The Conference Board yesterday said its index of leading indicators increased 0.8 per cent in March after a 0.5 per cent rise in February and a modest 0.2 per cent gain in January.

“The data are suggesting that we will gain economic momentum,” said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial. “There is a sense, more and more, that the economy won’t run into another soft patch this year.”

Reports of a potential merger also boosted the market.

Newmont Mining jumped US$1.42, or six per cent, to US$24.95 following reports that the mining company was considering a merger with Barrick Gold. The two companies are seeking to cut costs after a slump in metals prices.

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