Obamacare and tech help boost Wall St - New York Report

BOUNCES in Apple and Microsoft yesterday as well as a rally in hospital stocks after more Americans signed up for subsidised health insurance helped US stocks to end stronger.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.72 per cent to end at 17,251.48 points and the S&P 500 gained 0.78 per cent to 2,021.16.

The Nasdaq Composite added 0.93 per cent to finish at 4,968.92, helped by a 1.29 per cent gain in Microsoft.

Shares of Apple, under pressure in December over concerns that iPhone sales could miss estimates, rose 1.23 per cent and boosted major indexes.

About six million people have signed up for subsidised health insurance, often called Obamacare, including 2.4m new customers, the US government said on Friday.

Tenet Healthcare jumped 11.6 per cent, its best day since June. Universal Health Services rose 3.64 per cent.

Notwithstanding yesterday’s broad gains, many on Wall Street have acknowledged that 2015 looks to be a modest loss for stock investors, said Jennifer Ellison, a principal of San Francisco-based Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough.

“It’s going to be tough to get much of a rally now because it’s so quiet and volume is already down,” Ellison said. “Nobody’s interested in anything except making some modest tweaks to their portfolios for year-end spit and polish.”

The effects of the first Federal Reserve interest rate hike in almost a decade last week continued to resonate with investors. “It reaffirms our view that the economy is doing really well,” said Philip Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors in New York.