S&P 500 tops 2,500 mark as tech and bank stocks climb

WALL STREET WEEKLY MAR­KET RE­PORT

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

US stocks edged higher on Friday as tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies and banks rose. The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex closed above 2,500 for the first time as stocks had one of their best weeks this year.

Stocks wob­bled in early trad­ing af­ter the Com­merce Depart­ment said re­tail sales slipped in Au­gust and the Fed­eral Re­serve said industrial pro­duc­tion dropped last month, mostly be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey. But big names like Ap­ple and Boe­ing took the mar­ket higher. Stocks made big gains Monday and as Hur­ri­cane Irma weak­ened, and they didn’t do too much af­ter that, but still wound up with their big­gest weekly gain since the be­gin­ning of Jan­uary.

Rick Rieder, the chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer for Black­Rock’s global fixed in­come business, said re­tail sales and in­fla­tion have been weak be­cause tech­no­log­i­cal changes keep re­duc­ing the prices of clothes, food, travel, and phone plans. That low­ers mea­sure­ments of sales rev­enue, like the one the govern­ment re­leased Friday, but Rieder said they keep peo­ple buy­ing - even though the same tech­no­log­i­cal changes can also lower peo­ple’s wages.

“We get ev­ery­thing cheaper than we used to be­cause of the in­ter­net and de­liv­ery mech­a­nisms,” he said. “The price is com­ing down so quickly that it’s help­ing de­mand.”

The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex gained 4.61 points, or 0.2 per­cent, to a record 2,500.23. The Dow Jones industrial av­er­age rose 64.86 points, or 0.3 per­cent, to 22,268.34, its fourth record close in a row. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite added 19.38 points, or 0.3 per­cent, to 6,448.47. The Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of small­er­com­pany stocks picked up 6.69 points, or 0.5 per­cent, to 1,431.71.

Industrial out­put

Industrial pro­duc­tion in the US fell 0.9 per­cent in Au­gust, the big­gest drop in eight years, as Har­vey knocked numer­ous oil re­fin­ing, plas­tics and chem­i­cals fac­to­ries out of business for a time. Many of those fac­to­ries are based in the Gulf Coast re­gion that Har­vey hit. The Fed­eral Re­serve said the weather and flood­ing was re­spon­si­ble for al­most all of the loss.

Ap­ple picked up $1.60, or 1 per­cent, to $159.88 af­ter three days of de­clines. Chip­maker Nvidia jumped $10.71, or 6.3 per­cent, to $180.11 and hard drive maker Western Dig­i­tal gained $2.73, or 3.2 per­cent, to $88.52. How­ever shares of soft­ware maker Or­a­cle ab­sorbed their big­gest loss in four years. The com­pany’s first-quar­ter profit and sales were bet­ter than in­vestors ex­pected, but an­a­lysts were con­cerned about fore­casts for its cloud com­put­ing business. Or­a­cle lost $4.05, or 7.7 per­cent, to $48.74.

Boe­ing rose $3.77, or 1.5 per­cent, to $249 as the aerospace com­pany con­tin­ued to set record highs. Its stock is up 60 per­cent in 2017. Stocks in the UK slumped to a four-month low and the pound rose to its high­est level since mid-2016, af­ter Bank of Eng­land of­fi­cials con­firmed they are close to rais­ing in­ter­est rates for the first time in a decade. The first step could hap­pen as soon as Novem­ber. Many com­pa­nies on the Bri­tish FTSE 100 are multi­na­tion­als whose over­seas earn­ings are di­min­ished in value when the pound ap­pre­ci­ates against other cur­ren­cies.

The pound surged to $1.3571 from $1.3398, its high­est since mid-2016. The FTSE 100 fell 1.1 per­cent af­ter a 1.1-per­cent loss Thurs­day. UK stocks did not ap­pear to be af­fected by a bomb at­tack on a Lon­don sub­way train. Po­lice said an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice hurt more than 20 peo­ple, but none of the in­juries ap­peared to be life-threat­en­ing.

Credit mon­i­tor­ing com­pa­nies con­tin­ued to fall as Se­nate Democrats in­tro­duced a bill that would pre­vent the com­pa­nies from charg­ing fees to con­sumers who want their credit frozen. In many states, the com­pa­nies col­lect fees in re­turn for freez­ing ac­counts.

Some con­sumers have cho­sen to freeze their credit af­ter Equifax said the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of 143 mil­lion Amer­i­cans was ex­posed af­ter a breach of its sys­tems. Those con­sumers are try­ing to pre­vent iden­tity thieves from us­ing their in­for­ma­tion to open fraud­u­lent ac­counts.

Equifax fell $3.68, or 3.8 per­cent, to a twoyear low of $92.98. The stock be­gan plung­ing last Friday af­ter the com­pany dis­closed the breach, and this week it took its big­gest weekly loss since tend of 1998. Ri­val Tran­sUnion lost $1.47, or 3.4 per­cent, to $41.61 and Ex­pe­rian fell 0.9 per­cent in Lon­don. Bond prices dipped. The yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note rose to 2.20 per­cent from 2.19 per­cent. In­ter­est rates also rose, which helped banks, as they stand to make more money from lend­ing. US crude oil fin­ished un­changed at $49.89 a bar­rel in New York. It’s at its high­est price since the end of July. Brent crude, the stan­dard for in­ter­na­tional oil prices, gained 15 cents to $55.62 a bar­rel in Lon­don. Whole­sale gaso­line rose 3 cents to $1.66 a gal­lon. Heat­ing oil added 2 cents to $1.80 a gal­lon. Nat­u­ral gas fell 5 cents to $3.02 per 1,000 cu­bic feet.

Gold fell $4.10 to $1,325.20 an ounce. Sil­ver sank 9 cents to $17.70 an ounce. Cop­per lost 1 cent to $2.95 a pound. The dol­lar ad­vanced to 110.88 yen from 110.54 yen. The euro rose to $1.1938 from $1.1914. Ger­many’s DAX lost 0.2 per­cent and France’s CAC 40 sagged 0.2 per­cent. Ja­pan’s bench­mark Nikkei 225 in­dex added 0.5 per­cent. South Korea’s Kospi re­couped ini­tial losses to end 0.4 per­cent higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.1 per­cent. —AP

NEW YORK: This file photo shows a sign for Wall Street carved into the side of a build­ing in New York. —AP

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