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Wednesday July 26th, 2017 6:47PM

US stocks hold steady, on pace for another winning week

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes nudged higher on Friday, making only modest moves for the second straight day. Gains for dividend-paying stocks offset drops for banks and health care stocks.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index is on track to deliver its seventh week of gains in the last eight, following a big rally earlier in the week sparked by the Federal Reserve's announcement on interest rates.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose 2 points to 2,383, as of 3 p.m. Eastern time, after meandering between small gains and losses through the day. The Dow Jones industrial average added 20 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,955. The Nasdaq composite rose 7 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,907. Slightly more stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

Despite its modest moves Thursday and Friday, the S&P 500 is still on pace to deliver another winning week. It jumped on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve gave a more measured forecast for interest-rate increases than some investors expected. While raising rates by a quarter of a percentage point, the central bank said that it's still planning a total of three increases this year. That came as a surprise for some investors, who had begun to expect four hikes given the recent pickup in the economy and inflation.

CALMING DOWN: "The big focal point for the week was the Fed," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management. "Now that we have that behind us, the rest is window dressing."

Investors are turning their attention to the next potential flash points for markets, Jacobsen said, including whether Washington will be able to deliver on promises to cut taxes, boost infrastructure spending and otherwise goose the economy. They're also waiting for upcoming elections in Europe, where investors worry that wins by nationalist candidates could lead to weaker resolve for the European Union to stick together.

INTEREST RATES: Treasury yields dipped, resuming a slide that began after the Fed's announcement. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.50 percent from 2.54 percent late Thursday. The two-year yield dipped to 1.30 per cent from 1.34 percent, and the 30-year yield sank to 3.11 percent from 3.15 percent.

HEALTH CARE, FINANCIAL STOCKS SINK: Amgen had the biggest loss in the S&P 500 after results from a study of its cholesterol drug Repatha disappointed investors. It sank $11.84, or 6.6 percent, to $168.27. It helped drag down health care stocks in the S&P 500 overall by 0.3 percent.

Financial stocks were the weakest in the index, falling 0.8 percent. They have tended to move in the same direction as bond yields recently because higher rates would allow banks to charge more for loans and earn bigger profits.

DIVIDEND PAYERS RISE: When bond yields drop, it makes the income provided by dividend-paying stocks more attractive. Utility stocks in the S&P 500, which pay some of the biggest dividends in the index, rose 0.8 percent.

BIGGEST WINNER: Adobe surged to the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after reporting stronger revenue and earnings for its latest quarter than analysts expected. It jumped $5.48, or 4.5 percent, to $127.83.

SPARKLE SPARKLE: Jeweler Tiffany jumped $2.99, or 3.3 percent, to $92.97 after reporting better profit than analysts expected for its latest quarter. Strong demand in China and Japan helped it to offset flagging sales at home.

MARKETS ABROAD: France's CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent, and Germany's DAX index and the FTSE 100 in London both added 0.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent, South Korea's Kospi rose 0.7 percent and the Hang Seng in Hon Kong added 0.1 percent.

G-20 POWWOW: Finance leaders from the G-20 industrial and emerging economies are meeting Friday and Saturday in the southern German resort town of Baden-Baden. The first G-20 finance meeting since tough-talking Donald Trump was elected president is likely to focus on concerns over protectionism and currencies.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 3 cents to settle at $48.78 per barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 2 cents to $51.76 per barrel.

Natural gas rose 5 cents to $2.95 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline inched up less than a cent to $1.60 per gallon, and heating oil rose a fraction of a penny to $1.51 per gallon.

Gold rose $3.10 to settle at $1,230.20 per ounce. Silver added 8 cents to $17.41, and copper rose 1 cent to $2.69 per pound.

CURRENCIES: The euro edged down to $1.0741 from $1.0749 late Thursday, and the British pound rose to $1.2396 from $1.2358. The dollar slipped to 112.69 Japanese yen from 113.26 yen.

___

AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed from Tokyo.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services
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