Utilities, real estate and other big-dividend-paying companies led U.S. stocks mostly higher Wednesday, pushing the Nasdaq composite to a new record for the second day in a row.
The gains by big-dividend-paying stocks came as bond yields fell, making those traditional safe-haven companies more attractive to investors seeking income. Banks and other financial stocks were the market’s biggest laggards.
While investors have been focused in recent weeks on companies reporting their quarterly results, they are also trying to size up whether the Trump administration will deliver on expectations of business-friendly policies that helped fuel the market rally last fall.
“You’re beginning to see investors hedging some of their concerns, whether it’s an escalation in the debate between the White House and the judges on the (travel) ban, or concerns over the direction of the elections coming up in the Eurozone,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. “The question really is whether or not those concerns intensify.”
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.59 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,294.67. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 35.95 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 20,054.34. The Nasdaq added 8.24 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 5,682.45. The index also closed at a record high on Tuesday and last Friday. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell 2.32 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 1,358.74.
Bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.34 per cent from 2.40 per cent late Tuesday. That yield is a benchmark used to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including home mortgages.
The stock indexes headed lower as trading opened Wednesday and investors weighed the latest company earnings. The market recovered some of its losses by midmorning after crude oil prices turned higher following an early slide.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose 17 cents, or 0.3 per cent, to close at $52.34 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, climbed 7 cents, or 0.1 per cent, to close at $55.12 a barrel in London.
Investors bid up shares in companies that posted
better-than-expected quarterly results and outlooks.
Strong fiscal third-quarter earnings propelled Microchip Technology 6 per cent higher, making it the biggest gainer in the S&P 500. The stock climbed $4.18 to $73.80.
Myriad Genetics jumped 7.3 per cent after the diagnostic test maker said sales of hereditary cancer tests have resumed rising, driving revenue to the highest level in three years. The stock gained $1.12 to $16.52.
Panera Bread’s latest results and forecast helped boost the bakery chain $18.63, or 8.7 per cent, to $232.90.
Botox-maker Allergan also got a lift from its quarterly report card, adding $8.56, or 3.7 per cent, to $241.17.
Several companies served up earnings and forecasts that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations, sending their shares lower.
Akamai Technologies tumbled 10.6 per cent after the cloud services company’s latest guidance disappointed investors. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding $7.57 to $63.55.
Gilead Sciences slumped 8.6 per cent after the biotechnology company forecast disappointing sales of its hepatitis C drugs. The stock gave up $6.30 to $66.83.
Zillow Group slid 7.6 per cent after the online real estate information company posted quarterly results that included a tally of monthly unique users that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. The stock lost $2.83 to $34.33.
More than half of the companies in the S&P 500 index have reported quarterly results so far, and roughly 60 per cent have posted earnings that beat financial analysts’ estimates.
Coca-Cola, Twitter and Viacom are among the big companies due to report results Thursday.
Major stock indexes in Europe were mixed.
Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 per cent, while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.3 per cent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was flat. Earlier in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rebounded from early losses to rise 0.5 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.7 per cent. Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 gained 0.5 per cent.
In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline rose 7 cents, or 4.4 per cent, to $1.55 a gallon, while heating oil added 1 cent to $1.64 a gallon. Natural gas futures were little changed at $3.13 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Among metals, the price of gold added $3.40 to $1,239.50 an ounce. Silver fell 5 cents to $17.71 an ounce. Copper rose 3 cents to $2.67 a pound.
The dollar fell to 112.05 yen from 112.19 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.0687 from $1.0696.