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.