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United States stocks close higher on strong earnings

17 May 2018

Retail and technology stocks led Wall Street higher on Wednesday and the small-cap Russell 2000 hit a record peak, even as a rise in US bond yields to an nearly seven-year high suggested more competition for equities and investors fretted over geopolitics. Macy's led a rally among retailers after reporting surprisingly strong results.

Small-company stocks fared even better than the rest of the market.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with only the rate-sensitive utilities and real estate sectors in the red. The S&P 500 Department Store index .SPLRCRETD gained 5.2 percent, its largest daily jump in almost six months.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 62 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,768. The Philadelphia SE semiconductor index .SOX was up 1.4 percent.

"I think corporate earnings have been remarkably strong", said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in NY. "And when equity markets are able to look through to that and we don't have any major geopolitical headlines, we tend to have stronger days in the market".

BIG GAINERS: Technology and health care sector companies notched solid gains.

Macy's Inc M.N shares advanced 10.8 percent after the department store operator reported results that beat analyst estimates and the company raised its profit outlook. That helped shares of other retailers, including JC Penney, Kohl's and Nordstrom, which were all up between 1.5% and 3%.

Walmart and Nike, both components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Target were up between 1.4 and 3.2 percent.

ENCOURAGING UPDATE: Office Depot climbed 6.2 per cent to $2.49 after the office supply company maintained its forecasts for the year.

Abaxis soared 16.2 percent the veterinary diagnostic products company agreed to be acquired by Zoetis. Phillips 66 slipped 0.8 per cent to $117.43 after the Berkshire sold about half of its investment in the oil and gas company.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell.

The US 10-year Treasury yield spiked above the key 3% level to its highest since July 2011 on Tuesday after the retail data. Sempra Energy fell 1.4 per cent to $103.79.

Oil prices took a hit from an anticipated rise in United States crude inventory, pulling the S&P energy index down 0.25%. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oil, rose 85 cents to close at $79.28 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.22 yen from 110.38 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1804 from $1.1847.

Investors shrugged off a report Thursday of weak machinery orders in Japan a day after growth data came in lower than expected, with the Nikkei 225 index jumping 0.7 percent by midday to 22,868.77.

United States stocks close higher on strong earnings