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US stock indexes end mostly higher after late buying burst

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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Major US stock indexes closed mostly higher yesterday, erasing much of an early slide as investors favoured smaller, US-focused companies for the second-straight day.

Industrial, energy and health care stocks helped power the market higher. Banks also notched solid gains amid a broad pull back in demand for US government bonds, which pushed yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 1.73% from 1.62% late Monday, a big move.

Lenders rely on higher yields to set more lucrative interest rates on loans. Bank of America rose 2.5%, Goldman Sachs gained 1.7% and State Street vaulted 9%.

For the second day in a row, traders unloaded technology stocks and shares in companies that rely on consumer spending. Microsoft dropped 1.1%, as did payment processors Visa and Mastercard, losing 2.8% and 3.9%, respectively.

“It seems like a complete reversal of what's kind of been the theme over the last few months, where it's been more about higher quality, higher market cap, higher growth, more stable growth, and lower volatility,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “Things that had been doing well just completely got sold and the things that had been lagging completely got bought.”

The S&P 500 index inched up 0.96 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2,979.39. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 73.92 points, or 0.3%, to 26,909.43. The average was briefly down 118 points.

The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, slid 3.28 points, or less than 0.1%, to 8,084.16.

Investors continued to flock to smaller-company stocks. They're seen as being better shielded from the fallout of the costly trade war between the US and China than large multinationals.

Among the small-cap gainers were ABM Industries, which rose 3.1%, and Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, which jumped 16.9%.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks led the gainers, adding 18.76 points, or 1.2%, to 1,542.99.

The broader market has been gaining ground for two weeks as investors remain confident in the strength of the economy, despite that lingering trade war between the US and China. The feud between the world's two largest economies has been injecting doses of volatility into the market as both sides escalate and then pull back. Recent plans for trade talks to resume in October raised some hope on Wall Street for a resolution.

Meanwhile, investors continue to watch the steady flow of economic data for a clearer picture of the US economy's health. Recent reports have been a mixed bag, including a Labour Department report yesterday that showed both a slip in job openings as well as a slight increase in hiring in July.

The Labour Department will report the latest consumer price index figures tomorrow and the Commerce Department will report August retail sales data on Friday. Economists continue to expect the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates at its meeting next week to help maintain US economic growth.

Apple rose 1.2% after announcing a new slate of iPhones and other products, including a US$5-a-month streaming video service, which would be cheaper than rival offerings. Netflix and Disney each fell 2.2%.

Traders knocked Wendy's shares 10.5% lower after the fast food chain cut its profit- growth forecast because of plans to expand its breakfast options nationwide. The company plans to invest US$20 million this year in the expansion and expects up to 6.5% profit growth instead of 7% growth.


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