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Stocks climb for fourth day in a row, led by tech shares

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The facade of the New York Stock Exchange.
(Bryan R. Smith / AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. stocks rose again Friday, led by technology shares, to notch a fourth straight day of gains. They have risen every trading day of 2018 and are on their longest new-year winning streak in eight years.

The Labor Department released a December jobs report that was a bit less strong than experts expected, but it still underscored the continued health of the economy.

Wages grew and factory managers received more new orders than in any month since 2004. Shares of healthcare and consumer-focused companies rose, and the weaker dollar gave a lift to industrial firms such as Boeing and basic materials makers.

Wages and worker productivity are rising at about the same rate, according to Ed Keon, managing director and portfolio manager of QMA, a fund manager owned by Prudential Financial. He said if that trend continues, company profits should stay solid and inflation won’t be much of a risk to the economy.

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Productivity growth has been weak in recent years, but it jumped 3% in the third quarter. Keon said new technologies may now be helping businesses in a bigger way.

“It’s possible that we’re on the verge of a new productivity revolution,” he said. “If we are, that’s good news for wages, it’s good news for profits, it’s good news for economic growth, and it’s good news for the stock market.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 19.16 points, or 0.7%, to 2,743.15, and it was up 2.6% for the week. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 220.74 points, or 0.9%, to 25,295.87. The Nasdaq composite rose 58.64 points, or 0.8%, to 7,136.56. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks ticked up 4.29 points, or 0.3%, to 1,560.01.

The Dow industrials closed above 25,000 points for the first time Thursday. The Nasdaq breached 7,000 points earlier in the week.

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The last time stocks rose for at least four consecutive days to start a new year was in 2010, when the S&P 500 finished higher for six days in a row. It rose 1.9% over that run.

Although job growth has slowed somewhat with the economy close to full employment, solid economic growth in the U.S. and major countries overseas is still supporting more hiring.

Apple shares rose 1.1% to $175. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, advanced 1.3% to $1,110.29. Chip maker Xilinx jumped 5.2% to $74.15. EBay climbed 2.9% to $39.69.

Consumer-focused and healthcare companies also stand to benefit from sustained economic growth. Amazon climbed 1.6% to $1,229.14. Netflix advanced 2.1% to $209.99. Used-car retailer CarMax increased 4.1% to $71.04.

Among healthcare companies, Align Technology, which doubled last year, surged 3.3% to $241.07. Contact lens and surgical products maker Cooper Cos. climbed 3.1% to $230.50.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.47% from 2.45%. The yield on the 2-year note rose to 1.96% from 1.95%.

Barnes & Noble sank 13.8% to $5.60, its lowest price since 1994, after the bookseller said its sales slumped over the holidays. The struggles weren’t limited to its physical stores — its online sales dropped 4.5%. That’s partly because rival Amazon continues to win over people to its Prime membership program.

Wine, liquor and beer maker Constellation Brands’ shares fell 2.6% to $219.88 after its quarterly report disappointed investors.

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Francesca’s plunged 20.7% to $5.95 after the retailer said it struggled over the holidays as fewer people came to its stores and its shoppers spent less. It cut its profit and sales forecasts.

Wholesale consumer products distributor Core-Mark dived 23% to $24.18 after giving disappointing forecasts as several of its businesses struggled.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 57 cents to $61.44 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 45 cents to $67.62 a barrel.

Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.79 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $2.06 a gallon. Natural gas slid 9 cents, or 3%, to $2.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose 70 cents to $1,322.30 an ounce. Silver ticked up 2 cents to $17.29 an ounce. Copper fell 3 cents to $3.23 a pound.

The dollar rose to 113.14 yen from 112.74 yen. The euro fell to $1.2050 from $1.2072.

In overseas markets, Germany’s DAX gained 1.2%, and the CAC 40 of France advanced 1.1%. The FTSE 100 in Britain rose 0.4%. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.3% after North and South Korea agreed to hold their first official dialogue in more than two years next week to discuss ways to cooperate on the upcoming Winter Olympics in the South. Earlier, the United States and South Korea agreed to delay annual joint military exercises until after the Games, which will be held in February. Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 0.9%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.3%.


UPDATES:

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

7:35 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices and context.

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


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