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While you were sleeping: UPDATED Nasdaq climbs to fresh high as Dow stalls

On Wall Street, technology stocks rose 0.5% in the S&P 500, led by gains in shares of Yahoo!

Margreet Dietz
Wed, 17 May 2017

Wall Street fluctuated, with the S&P 500 retreating from a record high reached earlier in the day, amid disappointing earnings from retailer TJX and mixed US economic data.

At the close of trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 2.19 points to 20,979.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.33% to 6169.87, its 33rd closing high this year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index eased 0.07% to 2400.67 after earlier reaching an intraday high of 2405.77. 

The Nasdaq is up 15% this year, while the S&P 500 has gained 7.2% and the Dow industrials have risen 6.2%.

Technology stocks rose 0.5% in the S&P 500, led by gains in shares of Yahoo, which added 2.2% after the company announced it would buy back up to $US3 billion of its common stock ahead of its proposed deal withVerizon Communications .

Shares of TJX Cos slumped 4.2% after the owner of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Winners stores became the latest US retailer to post quarterly results that fell short of expectations, notably an easing in growth of comparable store sales.

"It's a combination of earnings and better than expected industrial production countered with concerns about future economic data and the fact we continue to see weak retail sales," Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones in St Louis, told Reuters.

"With the consumer being more than two-thirds of economic growth, if consumer spending is weak, can we continue to see solid economic growth?" 

Mixed economic data
Indeed, the latest economic data offered a mixed picture.

A Federal Reserve report showed US manufacturing output jumped 1.0% in April, following a decline of 0.4% in March. However, a Commerce Department report showed housing starts fell 2.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million units last month, the lowest level in five months and following a 6.6% drop in March.

"The sharp increase in industrial activity is a clear sign that the first-quarter sluggishness is behind us," Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania, told Reuters.

"It comes at the right time as home construction seems to have hit a lull."

To be sure, the outlook for US housing remains upbeat.

"It's a little bit of a concern, but these numbers do bounce around," Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg, Florida, told Bloomberg.

"The overall trend is still higher and the backdrop for housing is still favourable."

As stocks fell, government bonds ticked higher, with the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note falling to 2.329% from 2.338% on Monday. 

In Europe the Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with an increase of less than 0.1% from the previous close. Germany's DAX Index was 0.02% lower while France's CAC40 Index shed 0.2%.

The UK's FTSE 100 Index climbed 0.9%, led by gains in shares of Vodafone Group.


Margreet Dietz
Wed, 17 May 2017
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While you were sleeping: UPDATED Nasdaq climbs to fresh high as Dow stalls