(Reuters) – Wall Street gained on Monday to hit session highs boosted by technology shares ahead of Alphabet’s earnings, the last FAANG stock to post quarterly results.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files

FAANG earnings have been a mixed bag so far, with Apple Inc and Facebook Inc posting better-than-expected quarterly results last week, while Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc forecast downbeat current-quarter numbers.

Google parent Alphabet Inc rose 1 percent, and more than 2.5 percent gains in high-flying tech names such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp boosted the Nasdaq, leading the technology sector higher by 1.28 percent.

UnitedHealth Group Inc and Johnson & Johnson pulled the healthcare sector 0.68 percent lower, keeping gains in check for the blue-chip Dow and S&P 500.

Defensive consumer staples, utilities and real estate were also lower.

“We’re seeing the markets higher and it is an extension to the risk-on sentiment that we’ve been seeing since early January,” said Massud Ghaussy, senior analyst at Nasdaq IR Intelligence in New York.

At current levels, the benchmark S&P stood about 8 percent away from its Sept. 20 record close and was helped recently by signs of progress in U.S.-China trade talks and as the Federal Reserve pledged to be patient with further interest rate hikes.

A stronger-than-expected jobs report on Friday underscored strength in the domestic economy though concerns remained that a slowdown in the rest of the world could hurt U.S. earnings, with warnings from bellwethers including Caterpillar Inc.

“We’re starting off first quarter with a very high bar and it looks like it will be tough to beat,” Ghaussy said.

About 71 percent of nearly half of the S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, have exceeded analysts’ estimates, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Since the earnings season kicked off three weeks ago, analysts’ estimates for fourth-quarter profit growth have risen to 15.4 percent from 14.3 percent, but the forecast for the first quarter of 2019 has dropped to 0.5 percent from 3.4 percent.

At 1:12 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 37.77 points, or 0.15 percent, at 25,101.66, the S&P 500 was up 8.81 points, or 0.33 percent, at 2,715.34 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 65.61 points, or 0.90 percent, at 7,329.48.

Allergan Plc dropped about 4 percent after the FDA approved Evolus Inc’s cheaper version of blockbuster Botox. Evolus jumped 14.78 percent.

In a bright spot, Ultimate Software Group Inc surged 19.53 percent after the HR software provider agreed to be bought by an investor group led by Hellman & Friedman in a $11 billion deal.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.56-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.89-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded nine new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 55 new highs and 12 new lows.

Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta


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