Tech and healthcare stocks lift indexes back to record highs

Tech and healthcare stocks lift indexes back to record highs
People walk past the New York Stock Exchange. (Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. stock indexes drifted back to record highs Wednesday as investors got ready for another round of corporate reports to begin. Technology, healthcare and household goods companies all rose.

Tech-sector companies such as PayPal, Visa and Alphabet, Google's parent company, made some of the biggest gains as the market was little changed for the third day in a row. Banks slipped along with interest rates, and industrial companies edged down.


Minutes from the Federal Reserve's September meeting showed that officials were split about whether they need to raise interest rates again soon. But they appeared to be getting used to the idea that inflation will stay lower than they had hoped. For years, it has come up short of their 2% target.

Kristina Hooper, global markets strategist for Invesco, said one reason for that low inflation is continued fallout from the financial crisis a decade ago. In her view, many of the jobs that were lost after the 2008-09 meltdown were replaced by lower-paying ones.

"There are still a good portion of Americans who are making less today than they made before the global financial crisis," she said. "That's playing a role in lower wage growth and low inflation."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.60 points, or 0.2%, to 2,555.24. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 42.21 points, or 0.2%, to 22,872.89. The Nasdaq composite rose 16.30 points, or 0.2%, to 6,603.55. All three indexes finished at all-time highs. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks edged down 1.08 points, or 0.1%, to 1,506.92.

Hooper said inflation might increase if President Trump and Congress pass a tax cut that encourages businesses to invest more money. She said businesses and consumers both feel optimistic about the economy, but they're reluctant to spend money because they're not sure what economic policy will look like.

Airline shares rose for the second day in a row. Delta Air Lines ticked up 0.7% to $53.07 after posting profit and revenue that were better than analysts anticipated and issuing a strong forecast for the fourth quarter. (Delta shares have surged 9% since Oct. 3, when the airline raised its third-quarter projections.) JetBlue rose 1.5% to $20.53 after it gave an update on the revenue it lost after hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Johnson & Johnson led healthcare companies higher, rising 2.1% to $136.65 after it asked regulators to approve its drug apalutamide. The drug is intended for patients with a hard-to-treat form of prostate cancer.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.35% from 2.36%. That weighed on bank stocks because lower yields mean lower interest rates on loans, and lower profits for banks.

JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup will report their quarterly results Thursday morning as bank earnings get started.

An upset loss by the U.S. men's soccer team dented shares of Twenty-First Century Fox, which fell 2.5% to $26.11. The team's loss to Trinidad and Tobago means it will not play in the 2018 World Cup. That could cut into advertising revenue for Fox, which will broadcast the event.

Luxury handbag and accessories maker Coach fell 2.8% to $38.87 after it said it will change its name to Tapestry at the end of October. It bought the Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman brands over the last few years and said it wants its name to reflect its growth beyond the Coach brand.

Snap, the company behind the Snapchat app, jumped 11.4% to $15.98 after Credit Suisse raised its price target.

Sears Holdings slid 6.9% to $6.24 after the company's former Canadian unit asked a court to let it liquidate its 130 remaining stores. Sears Canada said it couldn't find a buyer to enable it to stay in business. Sears Canada was split off from Sears Holdings in 2014, but the U.S. business has also been struggling for years and investors are unsure about its future.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 38 cents to $51.30 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 33 cents to $56.94 a barrel.


Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.61 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.79 a gallon. Natural gas stayed at $2.89 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $4.90 to $1,288.90 an ounce. Silver fell 7 cents to $17.13 an ounce. Copper rose 4 cents to $3.10 a pound.

The dollar rose to 112.42 yen from 112.37 yen. The euro rose to $1.1855 from $1.1804.

The German DAX rose 0.2%. The FTSE 100 in Britain slipped 0.1%. France's CAC 40 took a small loss. The Spanish Ibex35 rose 1.3% after the Catalan regional government stopped short of declaring independence. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.3% to another 21-year high. South Korea's Kospi rose 1%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 0.4%.


2:45 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

7:40 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices and context.

This article was originally published at 6:55 a.m.