US stocks extend gains, Wall Street’s fear index slips

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Wall Street extended its gains by lunchtime in New York with concerns about geopolitical risks that weighed on US stocks last week appearing to fade, alongside a rally in the real-estate sector.

The S&P 500 rose 0.6 per cent to 2,341.86 in a broad-based rally, with the real-estate sector climbing 0.8 per cent to lead the gain. Energy was the only sector in the red, off 0.1 per cent, as oil prices lurched lower. Brent, the global oil marker, was down 0.7 per cent to $55.48 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate, its US counterpart, slid 0.9 per cent to $52.72 a barrel.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite were also up 0.6 per cent to 20,570.71 and 5,838.38 respectively.

Investors appeared to shake off concerns on geopolitical risks ranging from Turkey’s referendum to North Korea’s failed missile test. The moves come as US vice president Mike Pence began his four-nation Asia tour in South Korea, warning North Korea not to test Mr Trump’s resolve. Wall Street also appeared to shrug off a disappointing consumer price inflation report on Friday, which cast fresh doubts on the so-called ‘Trumpflation’ trade.

Investors instead appeared to turn their attention to the US earnings season, with more than 50 companies on the S&P 500 slated to report results this week. China also posted better-than-expected GDP data for the first quarter, signalling optimism on the strength of the global economy.

That in turn saw the Vix index, a closely watched measure of expectations for S&P 500 volatility over the next month, fall nearly 6 per cent to 15.03 — its first drop in six trading days.

Elsewhere, gold prices ticked up 0.3 per cent to $1,289.48 a troy ounce, while the yield on the US 10-year Treasury, which moves inversely to price, slid slightly to 2.23 per cent.

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