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Wednesday November 22nd, 2017 6:59PM

Gains for banks and technology stocks lead US indexes higher

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes are slightly higher Wednesday as banks rise along with bond yields, but utilities and other big-dividend stocks tumble. Smaller companies are climbing as investors review tax cuts proposed by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, and technology companies continue to recover some of their recent losses. Athletic gear giant Nike is falling as investors are concerned about its U.S. business.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,499 as of 10:50 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average was unchanged at 22,283. The Nasdaq composite advanced 35 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,415. The Russell 2000 index, which is made up of smaller-company stocks, continued to set records as it gained 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,463.

FED FOCUS: Investors bet that interest rates will keep rising. Tuesday afternoon, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank will be careful not to raise interest rates too slowly even though inflation has long been weaker than the Fed expects. Investors currently think the Fed will raise rates again in December, and Yellen and other policymakers say they plan to raise rates several more times in 2018.

The yield on the 2-year Treasury note rose to 1.47 percent from 1.45 percent. The yield on the 10-year note climbed to 2.30 percent from 2.24 percent. That helped banks, as higher interest rates mean they can charge more to lend money. Bank of America picked up 56 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $25.38 and Citigroup rose $1.41, or 2 percent, to $72.35.

Companies that pay big dividends, including real estate investment trusts and utility companies, took steep losses. Rising bond yields made government bonds a more appealing investment to investors seeking income.

CURRENCIES: The dollar also got stronger. It rose to 112.82 yen from 112.17 yen. The euro fell to $1.1733 from $1.1798.

LACES UNTIED: Shoe and athletic gear maker Nike said sales in the U.S. remained weak in its first fiscal quarter and steep discounts continued to affect its business. While its earnings and revenue were better than analysts expected, analysts chalked much of that up to lower taxes, stock repurchases, and spending cuts.

Nike stock lost $2.02, or 3.8 percent, to $51.68. Other sporting goods companies also slumped. Under Armour gave up 30 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $16.24. Retailer Dick's Sporting Goods shed 42 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $27.19 and Foot Locker fell 48 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $34.64.

TAX PLANS: President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are proposing a tax plan that cuts taxes for individuals and corporations, reduces the number of personal tax brackets, and nearly doubles the standard deduction used by most Americans. The top tax rate for corporations would be cut to 25 percent from 35 percent. But with months of negotiations likely ahead and many key details missing, it's not clear what kind of plan might ultimately pass.

TWITTER TEST: Twitter climbed after the company said it will test a 280-character limit for tweets. That's double the current limit, which has existed for the social media company's entire history. The stock gained 27 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $16.86.

Other technology companies also climbed. Chipmaker Micron Technology had a better quarter than investors expected, and its stock rose $2.77, or 8.1 percent, to $36.95. Facebook climbed $2.34, or 1.4 percent, to $166.55 and Apple picked up $1.33 to $154.47.

POWERING DOWN: Utility company Scana dropped after state police in South Carolina said they are looking into "potential criminality" by the company after a nuclear plant construction project was shut down after some $10 billion had already been spent. Scana said it will cooperate fully with the inquiry. Its stock sank $3.30, or 5.9 percent, to $52.27.

Scana's South Carolina Electric & Gas unit and partner Santee Cooper canceled the project in July after contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy.

LOSING ITS LUSTER: Gold fell to its lowest in a month. The metal's price declined $11.10 to $1,290.60 an ounce. Two weeks ago gold was at a 12-month high, but it's fallen sharply since then.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 11 cents to $51.99 a barrel in the New York while Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, fell 33 cents to $57.59 a barrel in London.

OVERSEAS: The FTSE 100 index in Britain rose 0.4 percent while Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent. The CAC 40 in France added 0.4 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent and South Korea's Kospi dipped less than 0.1 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.5 percent.

___

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay

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