U.S. stocks post solid gains after tax reform announcement, Powell nomination

Updated 2017-11-05 10:02:00 Xinhua

U.S. stocks notched solid gains for the week, with all three major indices topping record highs on Friday, as Wall Street mainly digested the newly-released announcement about tax reform and the appointment of next U.S. Federal Reserve Chair.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday unveiled the long-awaited bill to overhaul the tax code in decades by significantly cutting individual and corporate income taxes.

It would reduce the number of personal income tax brackets from seven to four, while keeping the top individual income tax rate at 39.6 percent. It would also cut the corporate income tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent.

Corporations would have greater levels of profitability due to lower taxes, while higher level of profitability for corporations leads to higher stock prices, Robert Salomon, associate professor at the Stern School of Business, New York University, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"Tax reform is the immediate priority," Stephen Gallagher, the U.S. chief economist at Societe Generale, told Xinhua in a note.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday announced his nomination of Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell to succeed Fed Chair Janet Yellen, whose term expires in February.

Powell's nomination to head the U.S. central bank is widely regarded as a "safe choice" for the Trump administration, as he holds similar views with Yellen in terms of monetary policy approach as well as openness to deregulation which the Trump administration is advocating.

U.S. stocks have posted solid gains since Trump won the presidential election in last November, because investors had high expectations for the president to fulfill his promise of tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending.

On the economic front, U.S. total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 261,000 in October, well below market expectations, and the unemployment rate edged down to 4.1 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department Friday.

Traders kept a close eye on nonfarm payroll report and tried to find clues on when the Federal Reserve might increase interest rate next time.

The Fed earlier this week left its benchmark interest rates unchanged, but did leave the door open for a December rate hike.

The labor market "has continued to strengthen" and economic activity "has been rising at a solid rate" despite hurricane-related disruptions, the Fed's policy-making committee said in a statement released after its two-day meeting.

"A December hike is priced in by the market," said Gallagher. "The Federal Open Market Committee has maintained guidance on another rate hike in December that would lift the range of the fed funds rate to 1.25-1.50 percent."

Expectations for a December rate hike are more than 98 percent, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

Strong corporate earnings also helped to lift the market. Shares of Apple rose 2.61 percent on Friday, after the tech giant reported quarterly earnings for its fiscal 2017 fourth quarter and issued strong guidance for the current quarter.

The Company announced quarterly revenue of 52.6 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 12 percent from the year-ago quarter, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of 2.07 dollars, up 24 percent.

The latest data from Thomson Reuters showed that the S&P 500 companies' blended earnings in the third quarter of 2017 are expected to rise eight percent year on year, while the revenues are forecast to increase 5.2 percent.

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