S&P 500 Turns Positive for 2016 as Crude Boosts Stocks

New York (Mar 18)  The S&P 500 was up 0.33%, turning positive for 2016. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.44%, and the Nasdaq climbed 0.05%.

A two-day rally pushed the Dow to wipe out its year-to-date losses. Wall Street's gains have been driven by a rally in crude oil prices that boosted energy stocks as well as residual goodwill following a dovish Federal Reserve meeting that ended Wednesday.

Crude oil extended recent highs after closing above above $40 for the first time this year on Thursday. The commodity has been on a tear on hopes members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries can agree on a production freeze when they meet in April. West Texas Intermediate crude oil jumped 1.9% to $40.95 a barrel on Friday.

Starwood Hotels (HOT) climbed 2% after reaching a deal to be acquired by Chinese company Anbang for $78 a share. Marriott (MAR) , which had previously made a play for Starwood, has five days to respond to Anbang's offer. Marriott and Starwood had agreed to a $12.2 billion deal late last year.

TransCanada (TRP) fell 5% after agreeing to buy Columbia Pipeline Group (CPGX) for nearly $10 billion. The move boosts TransCanada's presence in the U.S., increasing its total coverage to around 57,000 miles of pipeline in North America. The deal is expected to close during the second half of the year.

Adobe (ADBE) jumped 6.4% after quarterly earnings surpassed estimates on the back of strong growth in cloud computing services. The tech company earned an adjusted 66 cents a share in its recent quarter, a nickel above estimates, while revenue of $1.38 billion breezed past forecasts. The company also boosted full-year earnings guidance to $2.80 a share, up 10 cents from a previous target.

Aeropostale (ARO) plummeted more than 40% after broaching the possibility of a sale. The teen retailer reported another quarterly loss, while sales slumped 16% over its holiday season. Aeropostale has suffered three straight years of losses.

Tiffany (TIF) added more than 2% after beating quarterly estimates, though warned of a likely first-quarter disappointment. The jewelry retailer anticipates a 15% to 20% decline in earnings in its first quarter, far sharper than an estimated 6% drop. The company said worldwide same-store sales fell 9% in its first quarter, driven by weakness in Europe.

Casino stocks jumped after Macquarie Research upgraded the sector to neutral on the basis that revenue declines in key gambling destination Macau are beginning to slow. Analysts predict Macau casino revenue will decline 6% this year, more than half the decline initially forecast. Melco Crown (MPEL) , Wynn Resorts (WYNN) , MGM Resorts (MGM)  and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) climbed.

JPMorgan (JPM) added more than 2% after boosting its stock buyback program by $1.88 billion. The bank approved a $6.4 billion repurchase program last year, which can buy back nearly 1% of its shares at current value.

Source: TheStreet