Markets Right Now: US stock indexes are higher at midday

Galtero Lara
May 18, 2018

Stocks ended higher Wednesday, shaking off geopolitical worries and rising bond yields as retailers gained ground following strong earnings from Macy's Inc. The S&P 500 gained 11.01 points, or 0.41 percent, to 2,722.46.

The S&P 500 index rose 15 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 2,727 as of 3 p.m.

Macy's shares rallied over 10.8 percent on stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings in market closing on Wednesday. Other retailers were also strong performers, including Target Corp. The department store operator noted that its Bloomingdale's and Bluemercury divisions as well as its flagship store brand all did well. Nordstrom added 2.4 percent to $51.05, while L Brands gained 2.6 percent to $34.19. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 16.03 points, or 1 percent, to 1,616.37, topping its last all-time high in January.

"Retail is important because it's a reflection of consumer sentiment and you have many people who are employed by the brick-and-mortar retailers", Stovall said.

Abaxis soared 16.2 percent the veterinary diagnostic products company agreed to be acquired by Zoetis. Teva added 2.9 percent to $20.88. 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. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield hit 3.10 percent on Wednesday, its highest level since July 8, 2011.

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The pickup in bond yields weighed on utilities and other high-dividend paying stocks, adding to their losses from a day earlier.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil recovered from an early slide, adding 18 cents to settle at $71.49 a barrel in NY. Sempra Energy fell 1.8 percent to $103.34. Brent crude, used to price global oil, gained 8 cents to $79.36 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.22 yen from 110.38 yen on Tuesday.

METALS: Gold rose $1.20 to $1,291.50 an ounce.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Europe rose. Germany's DAX gained 0.2 percent, while France's CAC 40 added 0.3 percent. It suggested an improvement in the US economy a day after Japan said its economy shrank 0.6 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was nearly unchanged at 31,097.96 and the Kospi in South Korea was flat, at 2,458.90. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1 per cent.

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