Market news :: Economic, Personal finances and Earnings

Dow tops 21,000 after Trump speech, rate hike talk


´╗┐The Dow crossed the 21,000 mark for the first time on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump's measured tone in his first speech to Congress lifted optimism and investors viewed a looming interest rate hike as a glass half full. The three main stock indexes were on track for their best one-day gain since Nov. 7, a day before the U.S. presidential election, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also hitting record highs. Trump on Tuesday said he wanted to boost the U.S. economy with a "massive" tax relief and make a $1 trillion effort on infrastructure, bets that have helped Wall Street scale fresh records since the Nov. 8 election. But it was a break in Trump's often-abrasive speaking style that encouraged many investors who have worried he may struggle to push his agenda through a Congress reluctant to widen the budget deficit."Trump came off very presidential and investors are drawing optimism from the way he delivered the message in his speech," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey. The S&P financial index . SPSY soared 3.1 percent, outperforming the other 10 major sectors, also helped by key Federal Reserve officials who hinted at an interest rate hike this month. A Fed interest rate hike in March would be sooner than many investors expected and would make it more expensive to borrow money to buy stocks. But it would also signal policymakers' growing confidence in economic expansion after nearly a decade of tepid growth.

"It's not necessarily the rate increase that matters. It's that they're seeing things improving. If the Fed feels more confident, maybe we should too," said Warren West, principal at Greentree Brokerage Services in Philadelphia. Adding to expectations of stronger economic growth, the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index rose in February to its highest since 2014. The perceived chances of a March rate hike also rose after the U.S. Commerce Department reported that January inflation ticked up by the most in four years.

Traders have now priced in a nearly 70 percent chance of a rate hike when the Fed's policy-setting body meets on March 14-15, according to Thomson Reuters data. If the Dow closes above 21,000, it will have taken 24 trading sessions since the index first closed above 20,000. That would match the fastest-ever move between thousand-point milestones, which happened between March and May 1999 and took the index above 11,000. At 2:40 p.m. EST (1940 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average . DJI was up 1.64 percent at 21,154.17, while the S&P 500 . SPX had gained 1.49 percent to 2,398.93. The Nasdaq Composite . IXIC added 1.36 percent to 5,904.90.

Snap to price long-awaited IPO on Wednesday amid signs of brisk demand Snap Inc, owner of popular messaging app Snapchat, will price its initial public offering after the U.S. stock market closes on Wednesday in the most eagerly awaited technology IPO since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba went public in 2014.

More Wells Fargo customers may be affected by sales scandal: filing More Wells Fargo & Co customers may have been affected by a scandal over phony accounts than previously believed, the third-largest U.S. lender said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

Oil pares gains after U.S. crude stocks build to record high NEW YORK Oil prices were largely steady on Wednesday, paring gains and briefly turning negative, after crude inventories in the United States rose to a record high.

Phonemakers pile in to exploit Samsung weakness


´╗┐Phonemakers are piling in to fill a gap in the market left by Samsung (005930. KS), still licking its wounds from a costly recall of its flagship Note 7 and with no key device of its own to launch at the telecom industry's biggest annual fair. China's Huawei [HWT. UL], the most likely contender to fill the hole in the premium end of the market, took the wraps off a new phone in its quest to displace Samsung as the world's no. 2 smartphone maker after Apple (AAPL. O), during a rush of new product releases on Sunday ahead of this week's World Mobile Congress. Chinese challengers Xiaomi [XTC. UL], Vivo, Oppo and Gionee are in hot pursuit, while BlackBerry (BB. TO) and Nokia (NOKIA. HE) announced models exploiting their retro appeal. Samsung itself presented two new tablets pending the launch of its next flagship device, the Galaxy S8, expected now at the end of March rather than at Mobile World Congress, its usual showcase."The past six months have undoubtedly been one of the most challenging periods of our history," Samsung's European marketing chief David Lowes told a news conference in Barcelona. "We're determined to learn every possible lesson."Samsung withdrew the Galaxy Note 7 last October after faulty batteries led some devices to catch fire, leading to a loss of consumer trust, wiping out more than $5 billion of operating profit, and allowing the iPhone to overtake it in sales.

"The competition is feisty but I think we have a good chance," Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei's consumer business group, told Reuters in an interview. Samsung's smartphone market share dropped to 17.7 percent in the fourth quarter, while Apple's rose to 17.8 percent, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics. Independent research analyst Richard Windsor of Radio Free Mobile doubts whether Samsung can quickly regain its position. "Samsung has taken a massive $5.4 billion hit to profits, apologized profusely for the recall and admitted shortcomings in its quality and assurance process but I don't think that the full effects of this issue have fully hit home," he wrote in a blog post. He pointed to a survey from Harris Poll which shows that Samsung's reputation has fallen from No. 7 in the United States to No. 42, just one position above the U.S. Postal Service.

Huawei has aggressively expanded its mid- to high-end phones and is going head to head in Asia and Europe with Apple and Samsung in the premium phone market. Its new high-end P10 phone will go on sale from March at 649 euros ($685) in Europe, its key target market, likely ahead of the expected Samsung S8 launch. Huawei, which made its name as a builder of telecom networks and only entered the phone market this decade, has made no secret of its ambition to be the world's number two.

But fortunes can change rapidly in the smartphone market, with little-known names in the West pushing established Asian players such as ZTE (000063. SZ), LG Electronics (066570. KS) and Lenovo-Motorola >0992. HK> into the second tier. Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi are now the fourth, fifth and sixth-biggest smartphone makers in the world, according to Strategy Analytics, with Sony (6758. T) number 16, and HTC (2498. TW) in 20th place."The long game in smartphones simply is a marketing game," said Tim Coulling, an analyst at research firm Canalys.($1 = 0.9468 euros)