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Wall St gains as earnings fuel optimism

·2-min read

Wall Street has ended sharply higher, with strong profit forecasts from PayPal and CVS Health Corp lifting sentiment and helping elevate the Nasdaq to its highest level since early May.

Data showed the US services industry unexpectedly picked up in July amid strong order growth while supply bottlenecks and price pressures eased.

That supported views that the economy was not in recession despite output slumping in the first half of the year.

A fresh batch of strong results from companies including PayPal and CVS Health Corp boosted sentiment in a largely upbeat quarterly reporting season.

Reports exceeding low expectations have helped Wall Street rebound from losses caused by worries about decades-high inflation, rising interest rates and shrinking economic output.

"We're going through Q2 earnings and, by and large, from the tech complex to consumer discretionary and industrials, we're seeing a lot of better than feared prints, and that's just good enough right now," said Sahak Manuelian, managing director of trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

Apple, Amazon and Facebook-owner Meta Platforms all jumped.

PayPal soared after it raised its annual profit guidance and said activist investor Elliott Management had a more than $US2 billion ($A2.9 billion) stake in the financial technology firm.

CVS Health gained after the largest US pharmacy chain raised its annual profit forecast after posting strong quarterly results.

Manuelian said an additional factor behind Wednesday's stock rally was growing confidence among investors that the Fed has already carried out the bulk of the interest rate hikes that will be necessary to bring inflation under control.

Meanwhile, Richmond Federal Reserve President Thomas Barkin on Wednesday joined policymakers saying that the US central bank is committed to getting inflation under control and returning it to its 2.0 per cent target.

The S&P 500 gained 63.68 points, or 1.56 per cent, to end at 4,154.87 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 318.90 points, or 2.58 per cent, to 12,667.66 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 414.62 points, or 1.28 per cent, to 32,810.79.

Additional data on Wednesday showed new orders for US-manufactured goods increased solidly in June and business spending on equipment was stronger than initially thought, pointing to underlying strength in manufacturing despite rising interest rates.

The S&P 500 has rebounded about 13 per cent from its closing low in mid-June and would have to climb another 15 per cent to get back to its record high close in early January.

Moderna Inc surged after the vaccine maker announced a $US3 billion share buyback plan.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals climbed after it beat quarterly revenue estimates while coffee chain Starbucks Corp rose after it reported upbeat quarterly profits.

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