Stocks post a strong finish to the third quarter

A sign for a Wall Street subway station in New York.
A sign for a Wall Street subway station in New York.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Large technology and healthcare companies and smaller U.S.-focused firms rose again Friday, and stocks finished the third quarter at record highs.

Stocks were mixed at the start of trading, as they had been the day before. But chipmakers and big-name tech firms pulled stocks higher, as they have done all year. Healthcare companies also did better than the rest of the market. Tyson Foods climbed after it gave strong profit forecasts, and investors cheered strong quarterly results from Los Angeles homebuilder KB Home.

The market ended the quarter on a four-day winning streak that began after Federal Reserve Chief Janet L. Yellen said the central bank plans to continue raising interest rates.


“It’s all about the confidence they have that despite low inflation, it still makes sense to raise interest rates,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. “She’s confident in the economy, and the economic backdrop is very solid.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 9.30 points, or 0.4%, to 2,519.36 on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 23.89 points, or 0.1%, to 22,405.09. The Nasdaq composite jumped 42.51 points, or 0.7%, to 6,495.96. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both closed at all-time highs.

The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks rose 2.08 points, or 0.1%, to 1,490.86. It’s also at record highs after a big rally this month. It climbed 6% in September as investors felt positive about the U.S. economy and hoped Congress and President Trump’s administration will reduce taxes.

Tyson Foods jumped 7.6%, to $70.45 after the food company raised its annual guidance and said profits for its beef business were better than expected. Thanks in part to cost cuts, Tyson also forecast a bigger profit for next year than analysts expected.

Tyson gained more ground Friday than it had for the rest of this year put together. Its rival Hormel Foods, whose brands include Skippy, rose 1.4% to $32.14. Those companies and their competitors have struggled in recent years as Americans look for fresher food options.

Tech companies rose further and were the best-performing S&P 500 sector in the third quarter. They also held that distinction in the first quarter. The S&P 500 technology index has climbed 26% in 2017, while the S&P 500 as a whole is up 12.5%.

Facebook rose 1.3% to $170.87 on Friday. Chip equipment maker Applied Materials climbed 2.9% to $52.09, and chipmaker Nvidia advanced 1.8% to $178.77.

The recent gains for tech companies have come in spite of a slump for Apple, the world’s most valuable publicly traded company. Although Apple has soared this year, it’s down 4% since it announced its new line of iPhones and other products Sept. 12.

KB Home jumped 8.6% to $24.12 after its quarterly profit and sales beat estimates. Other homebuilders also rose. Meritage Homes climbed 2% to $44.40. D.R. Horton advanced 2.4% to $39.93.

Oil prices recovered and turned higher just before the close of trading. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 11 cents to $51.67 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, rose 13 cents to $57.54 a barrel in London.

U.S. crude oil rose 12% in the third quarter, which helped energy companies do better than the rest of the market. But on Friday, those companies gave back some of their recent gains.

Stocks have risen for eight quarters in a row, and Frederick, of the Schwab Center, said he expects that to continue in the fourth quarter as the global economy is likely to keep growing and interest rates in the U.S. should rise more, which will help profits for banks. However, Frederick said, it’s possible that concerns about domestic politics, including the federal debt limit, or international concerns such as tensions with North Korea will weigh on stocks again, as they did at times in the third quarter.

Roku jumped 12.9% to $26.54 in its second day of public trading. The seller of streaming-video boxes priced its initial public offering this week at $14 a share.

A10 Networks leaped 13.7% to $7.56 after the networking technology firm said its third-quarter revenue will be greater than it initially expected.

Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $1.61 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.81 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1 cent to $3.01 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.33% from 2.31%.

Gold fell $3.90 to $1,284.80 an ounce. Silver fell 17 cents to $16.68 an ounce. Copper fell 3 cents to $2.96 a pound.

The dollar rose to 112.51 yen from 112.39 yen. The euro rose to $1.1816 from $1.1791.

Germany’s DAX advanced 1%, and the FTSE 100 in Britain and the CAC 40 in France both gained 0.7%. In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 inched down less than 0.1%. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 0.9%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.5%.


2:40 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

1:25 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details.

This article was originally published at 7 a.m.