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Thursday July 19th, 2018 1:34PM

US stocks climb again as Pepsi leads household goods rally

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks shook off some midday doldrums and rose for the fourth day in a row Tuesday as strong results from Pepsi helped household goods companies. The market is at its highest level since early February.

Shares of most kinds of large companies finished higher, with food and consumer products makers, energy companies and utilities making some of the biggest gains. Pepsi staged its biggest rally in almost nine years after a solid second-quarter report.

The S&P 500 is the highest it's been since Feb. 1 and has climbed seven times in the last eight days even though the U.S. and China are now in open conflict over trade. Wall Street has focused instead on last week's strong jobs report for June as well as company earnings reports.

Invesco Chief Global Market Strategist Kristina Hooper said investors are taking a risk by overlooking how damaging the trade war might get.

"This is all about pushing aside that which is messy and difficult to calculate," she said. "It's far easier to ignore it."

The S&P 500 index added 9.67 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,793.84. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 143.07 points, or 0.6 percent, to 24,919.66.

The Nasdaq composite picked up 3 points to 7,759.20. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 8.99 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,695.62 after big gains over the last five days. Slightly more stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

Major U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup will announce their results Friday morning, and most of the companies in the S&P 500 will report their results in the weeks after that.

Pepsi's beverage sales are still struggling as the company tries to adjust to Americans' changing drinking habits. The maker of Gatorade, Mountain Dew and Tropicana said sales in North America fell, but its earnings were better than expected and analysts were pleased with its results in other markets.

The stock rose 4.8 percent to $112.89.

Investors are looking forward to another round of strong profit growth thanks to the growing U.S. economy and the corporate tax cut that took effect at the end of 2017. Hooper, of Invesco, said that could help stocks over the next few weeks, but said the market might struggle after that.

She said the taxes the U.S. placed on imported washing machines in January have clearly hurt sales, and there are signs the newer tariffs are affecting business spending.

U.S. crude oil rose 0.4 percent to $74.11 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 1 percent to $78.86 a barrel in London.

A shakeup at Lowe's continued as the home improvement chain said its chief operating officer and several other executives are leaving because their jobs are being eliminated or assigned to other executives. Marvin Ellison became Lowe's CEO on July 2 and the company's chief financial officer announced his retirement in June.

Lowe's climbed 2.1 percent to $99.01.

J.M. Smucker said it will sell its U.S. baking business, including Pillsbury. Brynwood Partners will buy the division for $375 million. Smucker said the business had about $370 million in sales over its last fiscal year and the sale will reduce its adjusted profit by 25-30 cents a share this year. The stock declined 1.6 percent to $109.14.

Financial companies have fared far worse than the rest of the market this year, and that continued Tuesday. Citigroup fell 1 percent to $68.23 and insurer MetLife lost 1.2 percent to $44.91.

Bond prices were little changed after a sharp drop one day earlier. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.86 percent.

Utilities and phone companies recovered some of Monday's losses. Those stocks pay large dividends, and investors often view them as alternatives to bonds. When bond yields rise, the big dividend payers become less appealing to investors who are seeking a source of steady income.

In other commodities trading, wholesale gasoline added 0.5 percent to $2.16 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1.2 percent to $2.22 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1.4 percent to $2.79 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell 0.3 percent to $1,255.40 an ounce. Silver lost 0.3 percent to $16.09 an ounce. Copper sank 0.4 percent to $2.84 a pound.

The dollar rose to 111.28 yen from 110.82 yen. The euro fell to $1.1745 from $1.1749.

France's CAC 40 gained 0.7 percent and the German DAX added 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 index of British shares rose 0.1 percent. The FTSE 100 has rallied over the last few days as investors saw signs Britain would keep closer trade ties with the European Union after it leaves the EU.

A cabinet meeting held Friday by Prime Minister Theresa May yielded a plan that favors closer trade ties including a partial free trade zone.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.7 percent and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4 percent. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng dipped less than 0.1 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
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