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Stocks end higher, lifted by Wal-Mart and airlines

Wall Street
A Wall Street sign near the New York Stock Exchange is shown.
(Jin Lee / Associated Press)

A big jump for Wal-Mart helped the Dow Jones industrial average reach a record high Tuesday, and gains for other retailers and airlines lifted other stock indexes as well.

Airlines rose after American and United issued strong forecasts. Utilities and smaller companies also climbed. Banks edged up as investors prepared for the financial sector to start reporting its third-quarter results in a few days. Wal-Mart notched its biggest gain in almost a year and a half after it forecast strong growth in digital sales.

Wal-Mart has invested billions of dollars in its e-commerce business in recent years. Katie Nixon, chief investment officer for Northern Trust Wealth Management, said Wal-Mart’s online business is key to its survival, so investors were glad to see signs of success.

“There’s very little retail loyalty now,” she said. “Consumers just want choice, price and convenience.”

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 5.91 points, or 0.2%, to 2,550.64. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 69.61 points, or 0.3%, to 22,830.68. Wal-Mart was responsible for almost half of that gain. The Nasdaq composite ticked up 7.52 points, or 0.1%, to 6,587.25. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 4.44 points, or 0.3%, to 1,508.01.

Wal-Mart Stores jumped 4.5% to $84.13 after the retail giant said that it expects its digital sales to rise 40% in its next fiscal year and that it plans to buy back $20 billion in stock over two years. Target rose 2.4% to $57.60. Amazon declined $3.79 to $987.20 after a four-day winning streak.

Airlines rose after American raised an important revenue forecast and United Continental predicted bigger profit margins. Airlines have been stung by a series of hurricanes that affected the southeastern U.S. over the last few months. Investors are worried about extensive discounts on ticket prices, but so far, their third-quarter results look better than expected.

United shares jumped 4.7% to $67.72. American rose 4.8% to $53.03. Delta gave a positive update of its own a week ago, and Tuesday it advanced 1.9% to $52.70.

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Nvidia rose 1.9% to $188.93 after the chipmaker announced it will work with Deutsche Post DHL to start testing autonomous delivery trucks in 2018. It is up tenfold over the last three years.

Automotive parts and electronics maker Delphi fell 1.5%, to $98.62. Delphi has announced several partnerships to develop and test autonomous cars, including a pact with a French transport company. Intel, one of Delphi’s partners in that business, slipped 0.5% to $39.65.

Procter & Gamble slipped 0.5% to $91.62 after saying its shareholders did not elect Nelson Peltz to its board. Preliminary vote totals showed a close result, and Peltz did not immediately concede defeat. Peltz, of Trian Fund Management, says the company’s performance has been disappointing for the last decade. The maker of Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste urged shareholders to vote against Peltz and says he hasn’t offered any specific ideas.

Industrial conglomerate Honeywell slipped 0.2% after it said it will split up. It will keep its lucrative aerospace business, which activist investors pushed it to spin off last year. Instead, Honeywell will make its transportation business a separate company. Its home heating, ventilation and security systems and fire prevention unit and its global distribution business will become a third company.

Pfizer rose 0.7% after it said it might sell or spin off its consumer products business, which owns brands such as ChapStick, Advil, Robitussin and Preparation H. It expects to make a decision next year.

Nixon, of Northern Trust, said these kinds of breakups are appealing to companies because they’re a way to create more value for shareholders in a time when economic growth remains somewhat low and isn’t likely to improve much.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose $1.34, or 2.7%, to $50.92 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 82 cents, or 1.5%, to $56.61 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $1.59 a gallon. Heating oil rose 3 cents to $1.76 a gallon. Natural gas rose 6 cents to $2.89 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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The dollar slipped to 112.37 yen from 112.69 yen. The euro rose to $1.1804 from $1.1752.

Gold climbed $8.80 to $1,293.80 an ounce. Silver rose 24 cents to $17.21 an ounce. Copper rose 3 cents to $3.06 a pound.

Bond prices moved up. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.35% from 2.36%.

In overseas markets, Germany’s DAX slipped 0.2% while Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.4%. The CAC 40 in France fell slightly. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.6% to its highest close in 21 years. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.7% after a weeklong holiday. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong climbed 0.6%.


UPDATES:

4:05 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

1:25 p.m.: This article was updated with the close of markets.

This article was originally published at 7 a.m.

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