US STOCKS-Wall St rises, focus turns to earnings from geopolitics

Reuters

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    * Netflix up after bell on 1st-qtr report, subscriber growth
beat
    * Merck rises on positive Keytruda drug data
    * Optical stocks hit by report of ban on supplying ZTE
    * Indexes up: Dow 0.87 pct, S&P 500 0.81 pct, Nasdaq 0.7 pct

 (Updates to close, adds commentary)
    By Sinéad Carew
    NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks closed higher on
Monday, with the biggest boosts from technology and healthcare
sectors as investors were optimistic about earnings season and
appeared less worried about U.S.-led missile attacks in Syria.
    The weekend's air strikes marked the biggest intervention
yet by Western countries against Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad and his ally Russia, which is facing further economic
sanctions over its role in the conflict.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N1RT2KB
    Stocks had ended lower on Friday on worries about Syria. But
investors seemed less anxious about he potential for retaliation
from Russia, an Assad ally, since there was none at the weekend.
    "Geopolitical conditions calmed," said Tim Ghriskey, Chief
Investment Strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. "There's
a lot of anticipation about very strong earnings growth in the
quarter. That may be attracting traders and even longer-term
investors back into the market."
    Netflix  NFLX.O  shares gained around 7 percent after the
market closed following its quarterly report. Its subscriber
growth beat analyst expectations.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1RT5FK It had ended the
regular session down 1.2 percent.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1RT1EU
    S&P 500 companies are expected to report an 18.6 percent
jump in first-quarter profit, on average, the biggest rise in
seven years, according to Thomson Reuters data. 
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  rose 212.9 points,
or 0.87 percent, to 24,573.04, the S&P 500  .SPX  gained 21.54
points, or 0.81 percent, to 2,677.84 and the Nasdaq Composite
 .IXIC  added 49.64 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,156.29.
    The S&P 500's technology sector  .SPLRCT  was the biggest
boost to the benchmark on a weighted basis, with a 0.7-percent
increase, followed by the healthcare index  .SPXHC  which rose
0.8 percent.
    UnitedHealth  UNH.N  provided the second-biggest boost to
the S&P from a single stock a day ahead of its earnings report
with a 2.7 percent gain. Microsoft Corp  MSFT.O  was the biggest
positive contributor with a 1.2 percent gain, on a weighted
basis.
    Merck  MRK.N  rose 2.6 percent after it presented positive
data on its cancer drug Keytruda, also boosting the S&P
healthcare index.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1RT0TZ
    Shares of optical components makers, including those of
Acacia Communications  ACIA.O  and Oclaro  OCLR.O , took a
beating after Reuters reported that the U.S. government was
banning American companies from selling components to Chinese
telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp  0000063.SZ  0763.HK . Acacia
slumped almost 36 percent, compared with a 15.2-percent drop for
Oclaro.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1RT0H3
    JB Hunt Transport Services  JBHT.O  jumped 6.2 percent after
the trucking company's profit topped estimates.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1RT50S
    Bank of America  BAC.N  rose 0.44 percent after a
bigger-than-expected increase in quarterly profit.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1RT46T
    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
2.70-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.82-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
    The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 68 new highs and 36 new lows.  
    On U.S. exchanges about 5.74 billion shares changed hands,
in the lowest volume session so far this year. Monday's trading
compared with the 7.03 billion average for the last 20 sessions.

 (Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing
by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish)
 ((sinead.carew@thomsonreuters.com; +1 (646) 223 6186; Reuters
Messaging: sinead.carew.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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