S&P 500 Posts 1.2% Weekly Gain to Record Close

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.2% this week to a fresh record closing level amid stronger-than-expected Q1 reports on US corporate earnings and gross domestic product.

The market benchmark ended the week at 2,939.88, up from last week’s closing level of 2,905.03. This marks the index’s highest closing level ever although it is just shy of the index’s record intraday high of 2,940.91, which was reached in September.

The week’s gains came as companies continued to report Q1 results mostly above analysts’ expectations. In addition, the Q1 US gross domestic product report released Friday showed a 3.2% economic growth rate, which topped consensus expectations of 2.3% although a large portion of the beat was due to a $31.6 billion inventory contribution.

The health-care sector had the largest percentage change of the week, up 3.7%, followed by a 2.7% increase in communication services. Just three sectors were in the red: energy, down 1.3%, followed by a 1.3% decline in materials and a 1.0% slip in industrials.

The health-care sector’s climb represents a rebound following a 4.4% decline in the sector last week, when shares of managed-care companies fell on concerns about the potential impact of the “Medicare for all” plans being touted by some Democratic presidential hopefuls. The worries seemed to ease this week as investors shifted their focus to Q1 earnings results within the sector.

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Among the health-care sector’s gainers, shares of Quest Diagnostics (DGX) jumped 11% this week as the diagnostic-testing company reported Q1 adjusted earnings per share and revenue above analysts’ estimates and confirmed its full-year guidance.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) was another strong health-care stock this week, up 6.8%, as the company reported Q1 adjusted EPS and net sales above analysts’ expectations and raised its 2019 guidance.

The communications-services sector was boosted by better-than-expected reports from companies that included social-media giants Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR).

Shares of Facebook rose 7.4% this week amid its report of better-than-expected results for its fiscal Q1, with revenue and adjusted earnings per share topping analysts’ estimates on the back of higher advertising sales.

Twitter shares logged a 12% gain for the week as the company posted better-than-expected results for its fiscal Q1, helped by double-digit growth in advertising and data licensing revenue on the back of a rising average monetizable daily active user count.

The energy sector’s drop, meanwhile, came amid lackluster quarterly results from oil companies Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX).

Exxon Mobil’s shares fell 0.8% on the week as the company posted Q1 earnings and revenue below analysts’ expectations. The petrochemical giant’s refining and chemicals segments weighed on results.

Chevron’s shares, meanwhile, slipped 2.3% this week despite its Q1 earnings topping the Street view, as its revenue missed expectations.

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