Stocks Trade Higher After Passage of U.S. Tax Law

Stocks rose Thursday, Dec. 21, for the first time in three days following passage of the $1.5 trillion U.S. tax overhaul.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 99 points, or 0.4%, on Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.25%, and the Nasdaq was up 0.14%. The Dow and S&P 500 were on track for their fifth straight weekly gain.

U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday, Dec. 20, as the benefits of the proposed tax changes were likely already priced in.

Financial stocks were leading markets higher on Thursday while utilities lagged. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) rose 2%.

Banks could be the biggest winners from the tax plan, which now awaits a signature from Donald Trump.

The biggest U.S. banks could see an average 13% increase in earnings per share from a drop in the corporate tax rate to 21%, according to Goldman Sachs. Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and PNC Financial Group Inc. (PNC) may have the biggest gains, Goldman said.

Wells Fargo shares rose 1.8% early Thursday.

Wells Fargo, Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) and Western Alliance Bancorp (WAL) said they would raise the minimum wage for their workers to $15 an hour following passage of the tax bill.

AT&T Inc. (T) and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) said Wednesday they would give thousands of U.S. employees bonuses of $1,000 each after the tax bill was approved by the Senate and House.

AT&T shares rose 1.3% while Comcast was up 0.8%.

Comcast is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells the stock? Learn more now.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares rose 0.2% after the world's biggest tech company admitted on Wednesday that that it intentionally slows down iPhones as they get older.

Apple is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells AAPL? Learn more now.

Finish Line Inc. (FINL) reported a third-quarter adjusted loss of 26 cents a share, much narrower than Wall Street's expectations. The company also said same-store sales in the period rose 0.8%; analysts expected a decline of 4.5%. The stock jumped 9.2%.

Conagra Brands Inc. (CAG) reported fiscal second-quarter adjusted profit of 55 cents a share, 3 cents above estimates. Shares fell 0.5%.

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY) fell more than 12% despite the retailer reporting third-quarter earnings ahead of expectations and same-store sales that fell 0.3%, which was narrower than analysts predicted.

In economic news, third-quarter gross domestic product in the U.S. was lowered to 3.2% from its last estimate of 3.3%.

Weekly jobless claims jumped 20,000 to 245,000, rising by the largest amount since early September.

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