Wall Street advances on strong industrial data but posts weekly losses

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York. — Reuters pic
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, March 17 ― The S&P 500 and the Dow Industrials rose yesterday, boosted by strong industrial output numbers, though all three of Wall Street's major indexes posted losses for the week.

February industrial production jumped 1.1 per cent, the largest increase in four months.

Energy led the major sectors of the S&P 500 with a 1.0 per cent gain, as oil prices rose 1.7 per cent.

“Today, there are not a lot of headlines out of Washington, so the focus is more on the economy,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at SunTrust Advisory Services in Atlanta.

Friday's gains came at the end of a rocky week dominated by concerns of a US trade war with China and political turmoil, which began with the ouster of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Stocks traded in a narrow range, Lerner said, as investors unwound positions in futures and options contracts expiring yesterday, in a phenomenon known as “quadruple-witching.”

The Nasdaq was barely changed at yesterday's market close.

Investors were also looking ahead to next week, when the Federal Reserve is expected to raise benchmark US interest rates. Rate-sensitive sectors, such as utilities and real estate, rose on Friday, but they could perform poorly if rates increase sharply.

“Many portfolio managers are starting to anticipate that eventually, maybe not at this meeting but in future months, that the Fed will become a little bit more hawkish in its behavior,” said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors in Florham Park, New Jersey.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 72.85 points, or 0.29 per cent, to end the week at 24,946.51, the S&P 500 gained 4.68 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 2,752.01 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.25 point, or 0 per cent, to 7,481.99.

For the week, the Dow fell 1.57 per cent, the S&P lost 1.04 per cent, and the Nasdaq dropped 1.27 per cent.

Walmart Inc gained 1.9 per cent after the University of Michigan's preliminary reading of its consumer sentiment index rose more than expected to 102.0.

Adobe Systems Inc was up 3.1 per cent, hitting an all-time high during the session, after the Photoshop maker topped analysts' profit and revenue estimates for the seventh straight quarter.

Micron Technology Inc rose 3.0 per cent after Baird analysts raised their price target on the stock by US$40 (RM156) to US$100. Western Digital Corp gained 4.1 per cent, hitting a three-year high during the session, after Baird upgraded the stock's rating to “outperform.”

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.01-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.48-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 178 new highs and 50 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 9.54 billion shares, compared to the 7.2 billion average over the last 20 trading days. ― Reuters

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