Tech, in­dus­try sec­tors help pull stocks higher

Stocks started lower, then ral­lied around mid­day.

Austin American-Statesman - - MONEY & MARKETS -

Af­ter a shaky NEW YORK — start, U.S. stocks fin­ished mostly higher Wed­nes­day as tech­nol­ogy and in­dus­trial com­pa­nies rose. Banks fell with in­ter­est rates as the mar­ket came off its big­gest loss in five months.

Stocks started lower, then ral­lied around mid­day and wan­dered be­tween gains and losses for sev­eral hours be­fore a late-af­ter­noon push.

Tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies led the mar­ket, as they’ve done through­out this year. Gains for ship­ping com­pany FedEx helped take in­dus­trial com­pa­nies up­ward. Nike took its big­gest one-day loss in five years as in­vestors were dis­ap­pointed by its quar­terly sales and out­look, and 130-yearold re­tailer Sears plunged af­ter it said it may not be able to stay in busi­ness.

A day ago stocks dropped as Wall Street won­dered if key as­pects of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s agenda, such as tax cuts and in­creased in­fras­truc­ture spend­ing will be de­layed. The Repub­li­can-backed Amer­i­can Health Care Act ap­peared to be in trou­ble ahead of a House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives vote on Thurs­day.

Terry Simp­son, a multi-as­set strate­gist for Black­Rock, says it’s note­wor­thy that even though the bill’s fate is un­clear, stocks didn’t fall any fur­ther on Wed­nes­day.

“The mar­ket re­ally wants to be­lieve in the new ad­min­is­tra­tion,” he said. But if the bill fal­ters in the House on Thurs­day or the Se­nate later on, in­vestors will have “in­creased doubt in the abil­ity to pass the pro-growth agenda.”

The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex picked up 4.43 points, or 0.2 per­cent, to 2,348.45. Nike dragged down the Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age, which fell 6.71 points to 20,661.30. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite rose 27.82 points, or 0.5 per­cent, to 5,821.64. The Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of smaller com­pa­nies sank 0.95 points, or 0.1 per­cent, to 1,345.60.

Ap­ple gained $1.58, or 1.1 per­cent, to $141.42 and Mi­crosoft rose 82 cents, or 1.3 per­cent, to $65.03 while chip­maker Nvidia added $2.16, or 2 per­cent, to $108.07. The S&P 500’s tech­nol­ogy in­dex is up 11 per­cent in 2017, more than dou­ble the gain for the broader S&P 500.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note fell to 2.40 per­cent from 2.42 per­cent. Lower bond yields mean lower in­ter­est rates, and those re­duce the prof­its banks can make from lending.

In­vestors snapped up high-div­i­dend util­i­ties and real es­tate in­vest­ment trusts as bond yields fell. Ex­elon picked up 34 cents to $36.30 and Con­sol­i­dated Edi­son gained 77 cents, or 1 per­cent, to $78.11. Util­i­ties are the best-per­form­ing part of the S&P 500 over the last month.

Sears said in a reg­u­la­tory fil­ing that there is “sub­stan­tial doubt” it will be able to re­main in busi­ness. In re­cent years the par­ent com­pany of Sears and Kmart has closed more than 2,000 stores and slashed spend­ing and jobs, and it has sold brands and split off its real es­tate as­sets to raise cash. The com­pany con­tin­ues to lose bil­lions a year as its sales fall fur­ther. It said pen­sion agree­ments may pre­vent it from spin­ning off other busi­nesses.

The stock has al­ready been trad­ing near all-time lows and lost $1.12, or 12.3 per­cent, to $7.98 Wed­nes­day. The com­pany’s real es­tate in­vest­ment trust, Ser­itage, lost 92 cents, or 2.1 per­cent, to $42.63.

Nike re­ported slightly dis­ap­point­ing third-quar­ter sales, and its fore­casts for the cur­rent pe­riod dis­pleased in­vestors as well. Nike’s stock fell $4.09, or 7.1 per­cent, to $53.92, its big­gest loss since June 2012. Nike is up this year but hasn’t re­cov­ered from a 19 per­cent tum­ble in 2016. In­vestors have wor­ried about Nike’s in­tense com­pe­ti­tion with ri­vals Un­der Armour and Adi­das.

Oil prices con­tin­ued to fall af­ter the U.S. gov­ern­ment said fuel stock­piles grew more than ex­pected last week. U.S. crude lost 20 cents to $48.04 a bar­rel in New York. Brent crude fell 32 cents to $50.64 a bar­rel in Lon­don.


Trader Daniel Le­porin (cen­ter) works on the floor of the New York Stock Ex­change on Wed­nes­day. In­vestors snapped up high-div­i­dend util­i­ties and real es­tate in­vest­ment trusts as bond yields fell.

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