Los Angeles Times

S&P 500 has best week since July

- Associated press

Wall Street added to its recent gains Friday as stocks closed higher, driving the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its best week since July.

The S&P 500 rose 0.7% for its third straight gain and ended the week 1.8% higher. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.1%, and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.5%.

The latest rally came as investors welcomed encouragin­g quarterly report cards from several companies. Leading the way for the S&P 500 was freight deliverer J.B. Hunt Transport Services, which jumped 8.7% after reporting stronger profits for the summer than Wall Street expected. Goldman Sachs rose 3.8% and Alcoa surged 15.2% after it beat earnings expectatio­ns and announced a dividend payment and buyback of its stock.

The positive company earnings dovetailed with a report showing people spent much more at U.S. retailers last month than Wall Street expected. Sales at stores, restaurant­s and other retail establishm­ents rose 0.7% from August instead of falling, as economists forecast.

“We saw retail sales this morning come in pretty strong,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Stocks “are still at pretty reasonable valuations with another earnings season having just ticked on, and thus far at least, some pretty good results.”

The S&P 500 rose 33.11 points to 4,471.37. The Dow gained 382.20 points to 35,294.76, and the Nasdaq rose 73.91 points to 14,897.34.

Friday’s gain followed a 1.7% jump for the S&P 500 on Thursday, its best day since March, which was driven by stronger-than-expected earnings reports and encouragin­g data on the job market.

It’s a turnaround from a shaky few weeks, when the benchmark index fell as much as 5.2% from its record set Sept. 2. Worries about stubbornly high inf lation, reduced support for markets from the Federal Reserve and a slowing economy helped to knock stock prices around. The S&P 500 is back within 1.5% of its all-time high.

Earnings reporting season has just begun, but early indicators are encouragin­g. All but one of the 19 companies in the S&P 500 that reported quarterly results this week topped analysts’ profit forecasts. Such strength is crucial after climbing interest rates heightened worries that stock prices had grown too expensive relative to profits.

The stronger-than-expected reports on the economy also help calm chatter about “stagflatio­n,” which is the feared marriage of a stagnating economy and high inflation.

Of course, all is not clear yet. A report Friday showing consumer sentiment was weaker than expected amid inflation worries helped limit the market’s gains.

Still, stocks of companies whose profits are most closely tied to the streng th of the economy — including retailers, automakers and travel-related businesses — led the way higher Friday. Amazon rose 3.3%, Tesla added 3% and Marriott Internatio­nal gained 3.1%.

Other than financial companies, which benefited from the better-than-expected profit reports from several big-name banks, industrial and healthcare businesses were also among the strongest gainers. Caterpilla­r rose 2.4%, and UnitedHeal­th added 1.8%.

Johnson & Johnson gained 0.7% after a Food and Drug Administra­tion panel endorsed booster doses of the company’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. The panel said Friday that the booster should be offered at least two months after immunizati­on but didn’t suggest a firm time.

Treasury yields also rose after the much-strongerth­an-expected report on retail sales. The yield on the 10year note climbed to 1.57% from 1.52% late Thursday.

Higher Treasury yields in recent weeks have been holding back technology and other high-growth stocks.

Tech stocks in the S&P 500 fared a little better Friday, matching the broader market with a 0.8% gain. The communicat­ion services sector that includes many internet companies fell 0.1%.

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