Stocks climbed from the start of trading on news that U.S. exports rose in April and that hiring picked up in May. The buying followed a rise in overseas markets on hopes of a breakthrough in Greece’s talks with its creditors.
By the end of the day, seven of 10 industry groups in the Standard and Poor’s 500 index rose. Utility stocks dropped 1.4 percent and energy companies fell 0.7 percent, along with the price of oil.
The S&P 500 edged up 4.47 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,114.07. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 64.33 points, or 0.4 percent, to end at 18,076.27. The Nasdaq composite climbed 22.71 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,099.23.
The Federal Reserve said that a survey of business conditions showed that manufacturing held steady or increased in most parts of the country. A separate report from the Institute for Supply Management showed U.S. service firms grew in May at the slowest pace in a year. But any reading over 50 indicates that services firms are expanding.
Utility companies were driven down by a sharp rise in bond yields. Investors like utility stocks for their fat dividends, but bonds are becoming more attractive as a source of income. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose on Wednesday to 2.37 percent, the highest since November.
Energy stocks fell as the price of benchmark U.S. oil slid nearly 3 percent. The two biggest decliners in the S&P 500, Chesapeake Energy and Diamond Offshore Drilling, each fell by more than 3 percent.
Among big gainers for the day was clothing maker G-III Apparel Group, which reported earnings and revenue that came in well ahead of what Wall Street analysts were looking for. Its stock surged $7.06, or 12 percent, to $67.15.
Investors were also keeping an eye on Greece. The country’s prime minister is trying to persuade creditors to accept a proposal that could unlock much-delayed bailout loans, but he’s running out of time. Greece has to make a payment of over 300 million euros ($333 million) to the International Monetary Fund this Friday, then make a series of other payments in the coming months. If it fails to repay past loans and get new ones, Greece may have to exit from the euro, a development that could roil the 19-country eurozone.
In the U.S. hiring report, payroll processor ADP said that companies added 201,000 jobs last month, up from just 165,000 in April. That raised hopes for more good news on Friday, when the government releases its broader survey of the job market.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.62 to close at $59.64 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.69 to close at $63.80 in London.
In other futures trading on the NYMEX:
- Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to close at $2.045 a gallon.
- Heating oil fell 5.4 cents to close at $1.892 a gallon.
- Natural gas fell 6.4 cents to close at $2.634 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold fell $9.50, or nearly 1 percent, to $1,184.90 an ounce.
Silver slipped 32 cents, or 2 percent, to $16.48 an ounce.
Copper edged down 1 cent to $2.72 a pound.