Tue. Mar 21st, 2023


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Wall Street scales new heights, powered by tech stocks

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(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes marched on, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hitting record highs on Wednesday, as fresh technology stock buying combined with hopes the Federal Reserve would keep the stimulus taps open after weaker-than-expected private payrolls data.

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Technology stocks, which tend to benefit from a low-rate environment, were up 0.5%. Apple Inc rose 1.2% to its second record high this week, and Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com Inc and Google-owner Alphabet Inc all advanced between 0.4% and 1.4%.

Sectors considered as bond-proxies or defensive including utilities, consumer discretionary and real estate were also among the top performers, rising between 0.5% and 1.6%.

A report by ADP, published ahead of the U.S. government’s more comprehensive employment report on Friday, showed private employers hired far fewer workers than expected in August.

“Information on inflation with regard to jobs and wages is something that will be an important factor affecting Fed decisions rather than demand and supply side issues, which is why the Friday jobs data will set the stage for the Fed’s September meeting,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments in Atlanta.

Wall Street’s main indexes have hit record highs recently, with the benchmark S&P 500 notching a solid 20.8% gain so far this year as investors shrugged off risks around a rise in new coronavirus infections and hoped for the Fed to remain dovish in its policy stance.

Another set of data on Wednesday showed U.S. manufacturing activity unexpectedly picked up in August amid strong order growth, but a measure of factory employment dropped to a nine-month low, likely as workers remained scarce.

Surveys earlier in the day showed Asian and European factory activity lost momentum last month as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted supply chains.

By 1:51 p.m. ET (1751 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.62 points, or 0.01%, to 35,364.35, the S&P 500 gained 13.16 points, or 0.29%, to 4,535.84 and the Nasdaq Composite added 116.35 points, or 0.76%, to 15,375.59.

While the majority of sectors were in positive territory, the energy Index declined 1.4%, heading for its third straight fall.

Oil prices edged lower after OPEC and its allies agreed to stick to their existing policy of gradual output increases, while the impact of Hurricane Ida is still being established. Analysts have warned that restarting Louisiana refineries shut by the storm could take weeks and cost operators tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue. [O/R]

PBF Energy Inc, whose 190,000 barrel-per-day Chalmette, Louisiana, refinery lost power following the storm, was down 7% on Wednesday, taking its decline this week to 11.4%.

Shares of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger owner PVH Corp surged 14.6% to the top of the S&P 500 after it raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Maker of Prego pasta sauces, Campbell Soup Co rose 1.4% even as it forecast fiscal 2022 profit and sales below market expectations due to a slowdown in demand and higher raw material costs.

The S&P 500 posted 52 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 117 new highs and 13 new lows.

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