Stocks muster gains af­ter list­less day

The News-Times - - BUSINESS -

Ma­jor U.S. stock in­dexes capped a day of list­less trad­ing with mod­est gains Thursday, snap­ping the mar­ket’s two-day los­ing streak.

A late flurry of buy­ing helped lift the in­dexes, which had spent much of the day mov­ing side­ways af­ter an early rally lost mo­men­tum. Even so, the mar­ket re­mained on track for its fourth straight weekly loss and its first monthly de­cline of the year.

Gains in tech­nol­ogy, health care and con­sumer dis­cre­tionary stocks out­weighed losses in en­ergy, fi­nan­cials and other sec­tors. Bond prices rose again, send­ing yields lower. Oil and gas prices fell sharply.

Stocks have been slid­ing in volatile trad­ing all month as in­vestors come to grips with the po­ten­tial im­pact that the es­ca­lat­ing trade war be­tween the U.S. and China could have on cor­po­rate and eco­nomic growth. With one day left of trad­ing in May, the S&P 500 is head­ing for a monthly loss of about 5.3 per­cent.

“This 5 per­cent or 6 per­cent sell-off is re­ally just a re­set­ting of ex­pec­ta­tions, es­pe­cially with the sen­ti­ment that’s been a gloomy over­hang,” said David Lyon, global in­vest­ment spe­cial­ist at J.P. Mor­gan Pri­vate Bank.

The S&P 500 in­dex rose 5.84 points, or 0.2 per­cent, to 2,788.86. The Dow Jones In­dus­trial Av­er­age gained 43.47 points, or 0.2 per­cent, to 25,169.88.

The Nas­daq com­pos­ite added

20.41 points, or 0.3 per­cent, to

7,567.72. The Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of smaller com­pa­nies fell 4.42 points, or 0.3 per­cent, to 1,485.53.

Ma­jor stock in­dexes in Europe rose broadly.

The U.S. stock mar­ket’s slump in May fol­lows a year­long run for the S&P 500 that cul­mi­nated in an all-time high on April 30. The bench­mark in­dex is still up 11.2 per­cent for the year, while the tech­nol­ogy-heavy Nas­daq com­pos­ite is up 14.1 per­cent.

Trade con­cerns could con­tinue to hang over the mar­ket through late June. That’s when U.S. and Chi­nese lead­ers will have an op­por­tu­nity to meet at the next G20 sum­mit in Ja­pan.

“We don’t ex­pect there to be some grand bar­gain, but that will def­i­nitely set the tone,” said Jim Smigiel, chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer of non-tra­di­tional strate­gies at SEI.

Un­til then, in­vestors will have to deal with more un­cer­tainty over the trade war’s im­pact on global growth, cor­po­rate profit re­sults and mone­tary pol­icy.

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