BUSINESS US stock indexes end mostly higher, extending market's gains


US stock indexes end mostly higher, extending market's gains


07:50, March 13, 2019

US stock.jpeg

Trader Dudley Devine works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (Photo: AP)

Technology and health care companies led US stock indexes mostly higher Tuesday, building on the market’s solid gains from a day earlier.

Boeing weighed down the Dow Jones Industrial Average for a second day as shares in the aircraft maker fell amid safety concerns following another deadly crash involving its most popular plane. The company led a slide in industrial sector stocks.

A report showing that US consumer prices rose modestly last month — the latest evidence that inflation remains in check — also helped lift stocks.

The latest gains extend a rebound in stocks this week after the market ended last week with its worst week since December.

“It just goes to show that investors are taking advantage of the pullback we had last week,” said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA. “What’s notable in the last couple of days is the move you’re seeing in the Nasdaq. You’re starting to see that return to growth in the market right now.”

The benchmark S&P 500 index gained 8.22 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,791.52. The Dow fell 96.22 points, or 0.4 percent, to 25,554.66.

The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, climbed 32.97 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,591.03. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 0.96 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,549.83.

Major European stock indexes finished mostly higher before Britain’s Parliament voted to reject a deal for the U.K. to exit from the European Union. The move plunges the Brexit process into chaos just 17 days before Britain is due to leave the bloc.

Traders appeared to mostly shrug off the developments in Britain, though US indexes lost some of their gains toward the end of the day as the Brexit vote was being held.

The two-day rally has helped the market reclaim the momentum it had in January and February, when it posted the best two-month start to a year since 1991. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are showing double-digits gains for the year so far, and the Dow is up by more than 9 percent.

Investors are still waiting for more details on any potential trade deal between the US and China. Costly tariffs have hurt both nations and investors hope a deal can be struck to at least take some pressure off the global economy, which has shown signs of cooling off.

“We’re just in this weird period where earnings just ended, we’re waiting to see what happens with Brexit, waiting for a resolution from China and the trade situation there,” Bell said. “We’re in wait-and-see mode.”

Technology and health care stocks did the most to push the market higher Tuesday. Apple and UnitedHealth each rose 1.1 percent.

Boeing shares slid 6.1 percent, the stock’s second day of steep losses, as more countries grounded the aircraft manufacturer’s 737 Max 8 following the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 on Sunday, which killed 157 people. A similar Lion Air plane crashed in Indonesia in October, killing 189 people.

Britain joined a growing number of countries to ground the plane. Australia and Singapore suspended all flights into or out of their countries. Airlines in China and Indonesia, Aeromexico, Brazil’s Gol Airlines, India’s Jet Airways and others have done the same.

The Labor Department’s latest snapshot of consumer prices also put investors in a buying mood. The consumer price index rose a modest 1.5 percent last month from a year ago. The small increase is the latest evidence that inflation remains muted, which gives the Federal Reserve more flexibility in holding off on further interest rate increases, said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager for Private Wealth Management at US Bank.

“The markets are reflecting a more favorable interpretation of the shift in central bank policies,” he said. “They’re creating more of a favorable backdrop.”

Traders bid up shares in Stitch Fix after the personal styling service blew past analyst’s expectations for the fourth-quarter. The stock vaulted 25.2 percent.

Dick’s Sporting Goods’ plunged 11 percent after the company reported a slide in sales during the fourth quarter and a weak forecast. A key sales figure fell 2.2 percent in the period, worse than what analysts were expecting.

Marijuana stocks rose after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders said they’ve agreed on legislation to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. The agreement comes after more than a year of negotiations.

Tilray gained 3.1 percent, while Canopy Growth added 1.4 percent.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.61 percent from 2.64 percent late Monday.

The dollar strengthened to 111.29 Japanese yen from 111.21 yen on Monday. The euro rose to $1.1297 from $1.1240.

The price of US crude oil rose 8 cents to $56.87 a barrel, while Brent crude rose 9 cents to $66.67 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.82 a gallon, heating oil fell less than 1 cent to $1.99 a gallon and natural gas rose 1 cent to $2.78 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The price of gold rose 7 cents to $1,291.10 an ounce, silver rose 14 cents to $15.41 an ounce and copper rose 3 cents to $2.93 a pound.

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