September 11, 2017 / 1:03 PM / in a year

US STOCKS-Wall St set for relief rally as Irma, N.Korea fears ease

* Irma weakens to tropical storm, insurers gain

* No North Korea missile test as feared

* World stocks climb to a record high; gold drops

* Futures up: Dow 111 pts, S&P 12 pts, Nasdaq 40.5 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

Sept 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open sharply higher on Monday on relief that Irma weakened to a tropical storm and North Korea did not conduct a nuclear test over the weekend as feared.

Irma pounded heavily populated areas of central Florida over the weekend, but gradually lost strength and was downgraded to a tropical storm in the morning.

Irma, once ranked as one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, had started off a category 5 and came on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, whose devastations economists said would dent third-quarter economic growth.

Also boosting risk appetite was North Korea holding a massive celebration on it founding day on Saturday, instead of another long-range missile launch as the United States and its allies were bracing for.

With the tensions easing, world stocks climbed to a record high, while the dollar edged higher and gold retreated from Friday’s 13-month high.

“For now, we’re seeing a bit of a relief rally. It does appear that the worst-case scenario for Florida has been evaded,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

At 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 111 points, or 0.51 percent, with 14,056 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 12 points, or 0.49 percent, with 196,044 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 40.5 points, or 0.68 percent, on volume of 22,325 contracts.

“However, a big question remains on the sanctions from the United Nations ... you just have to wait and see the reaction from North Korea,” Cardillo said.

The U.N. Security Council is set to vote on Monday on a watered-down U.S.-drafted resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclear test, diplomats said.

Wall Street ended mixed on Friday, with the major indexes all posting declines for the week, as investors fretted about Pyongyang’s possible missile test and braced for Irma.

Insurers’ shares, which had been under pressure after the back-to-back natural disasters, rose in premarket trading.

Travelers, Allstate and Chubb were up more than 1 percent. Florida insurers gained more.

Universal Insurance Holdings, Heritage Insurance and HCI Group surged between 16 percent and 19 percent.

A host of biotech stocks were also higher after reporting positive news on their drug developments. Among them, Marinus Pharma surged about 37 percent and Idera Pharma gained about 20 percent.

Also boosting pharma stocks was Teva, which jumped 11.6 percent after naming a new chief executive.

Snap was down about 2 percent after Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock to “hold”, saying new products may take longer to improve daily active users trajectory. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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