Gains mod­est but Dow logs high


Banks and tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies led U.S. stocks to mod­est gains Thurs­day, push­ing the Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age to its sec­ond record close in two days.

The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex gained 4.58 points, or 0.2 per­cent, to 2,447.83. The Dow rose 20.95 points, or 0.1 per­cent, to 21,553.09. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite added 13.27 points, or 0.2 per­cent, to 6,274.44. The Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of smaller-com­pany stocks inched up 1.34 points, or 0.1 per­cent, to 1,425.66.

The ma­jor in­dexes are all on pace to end the week with gains.

Big re­tail chains and other con­sumer-fo­cused stocks were among the gain­ers. En­ergy com­pa­nies rose as the price of crude oil in­creased. Phone com­pa­nies and util­i­ties lagged the mar­ket.

“We’re con­tin­u­ing to hit record highs,” said Erik David­son, chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer for Wells Fargo Pri­vate Bank. “It is a re­silient mar­ket, im­per­vi­ous to what­ever comes out of Wash­ing­ton.”

Trad­ing was mostly sub­dued for much of the day as in­vestors weighed new eco­nomic data on ap­pli­ca­tions for un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits and prices at the whole­sale level.

Over­all, in­vestors were fo­cused on the com­ing wave of cor­po­rate earn­ings.

“Mar­kets are re­ally bid­ing their time un­til we get into [to­day’s] more ro­bust earn­ings re­leases,” said Eric Wie­gand, se­nior port­fo­lio man­ager for Pri­vate Wealth Man­age­ment at U.S. Bank.

Banks and other fi­nan­cial stocks posted the largest gains. T. Rowe Price Group shares rose $3.61, or 4.8 per­cent, to $79.19. Gold­man Sachs Group rose $3.01, or 1.3 per­cent, to $230.40. Mor­gan Stan­ley picked up 56 cents, or 1.2 per­cent, to $45.52.

Sev­eral big banks, in­clud­ing Cit­i­group, JP­Mor­gan Chase and Wells Fargo are sched­uled to re­lease their sec­ond-quar­ter re­sults to­day.

“Banks cer­tainly op­er­ate a bit in their own or­bit, but at the same time fi­nan­cials glob­ally are a proxy for the over­all econ­omy. In­vestors are def­i­nitely look­ing to see how those come out,” David­son said.

Traders will be fo­cused on com­pa­nies’ lat­est quar­terly earn­ings for the next few weeks. The mar­ket ex­pects earn­ings per share growth of about 7 per­cent from com­pa­nies in the S&P 500.

Traders also bid up shares in tech­nol­ogy sec­tor com­pa­nies. NetApp rose $1.21, or 3 per­cent, to $41.38. PayPal gained $1.35, or 2.4 per­cent, to $57.90.

Sev­eral large re­tail­ers had a good day.

Gap notched the big­gest gain among S&P 500 com­pa­nies. The stock climbed $1.21, or 5.6 per­cent, to $22.78. Macy’s rose 87 cents, or 4.1 per­cent, to $22.10.

In­vestors cheered Tar­get’s lat­est quar­terly out­look. The re­tailer raised its sec­ond-quar­ter fore­casts and said sales and cus­tomer traf­fic in­creased. The stock gained $2.44, or 4.8 per­cent, to $53.31.

“That’s been a bit of fresh air in a very, very chal­lenged sec­tor,” David­son said.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note rose to 2.35 per­cent from 2.33 per­cent late Wed­nes­day.

Bench­mark U.S. crude gained 59 cents, or 1.3 per­cent, to set­tle at $46.08 per bar­rel on the New York Mer­can­tile Ex­change. Brent crude, used to price in­ter­na­tional oils, added 68 cents, or 1.4 per­cent, to close at $48.42 per bar­rel in Lon­don.

Gold fell $1.80 to $1,217.30 an ounce. Sil­ver slid 20 cents to $15.69 an ounce. Cop­per lost 2 cents to $2.66 a pound.

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