Stock Indexes Hold Steady as Fed-Fueled Rally Fades


Stocks held steady on Wall Street Thursday, and bond prices gave back some of their big gains from the prior day as a rally fueled by the Federal Reserve’s announcement on interest rates Wednesday faded.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 3.88 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,381.38. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 15.55 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,934.55. The Nasdaq composite, meanwhile, rose 0.71 points, or 0.01 percent, to 5,900.76. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks also rose slightly, up 3.20 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,386.03.

Yields ticked higher as bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.53 percent from 2.50 percent late Wednesday. It had plunged 0.11 percentage points the prior day, after the Fed threw cold water on speculation that it may get more aggressive in raising rates.

The Fed is hoping to lift rates gradually off their record lows, where they stayed for seven years following the 2008 financial crisis. With both economic data and inflation picking up recently, some investors began to consider the possibility that the Fed may try to raise rates four times this year.

Thursday’s slight rise in yields dulled the appeal of dividend-paying stocks. Utility stocks in the S&P 500 index lost 1.1 percent, the biggest loss among the 11 sectors that make up the index. Health care stocks were also weaker than the rest of the index, following a strong start to the year.

Technology stocks did better, led by Oracle, which reported stronger revenue and earnings for its latest quarter than analysts expected. The tech giant jumped $2.68, or 6.2 percent, to $45.73 for the biggest gain in the S&P 500.

GoPro, which makes wearable cameras, surged after it announced a cost-cutting plan and said it’s sticking by its forecast for 2017 profits. Its stock rose $1.16, or 15.8 percent, to $8.51.

Stock markets across the Atlantic were also strong, with the French CAC 40 up 0.6 percent and Germany’s DAX also up 0.6 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent and closed at a record high.

Investors had been nervous about Wednesday’s Dutch election, where candidates were running on pledges to get the Netherlands out of the European Union and to close borders to migrants from Muslim nations. After the U.K. vote last summer to leave the European Union, investors were worried about whether a wave of nationalism across the continent could eventually break the European union apart.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party won a parliamentary election victory Wednesday over Geert Wilders, who campaigned against the European Union.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.1 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 2.1 percent, and Seoul’s Kospi rose 0.8 percent.

Benchmark U.S. crude resumed its slide and slipped 11 cents to settle at $48.75 per barrel. It was the eighth drop for oil in the last nine days. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 7 cents to $51.74 a barrel.

Natural gas fell 8 cents to settle at $2.90 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil dropped close to a penny to $1.50 per gallon and wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.59 per gallon.

Gold rose $26.40, or 2.2 percent, to settle at $1,227.10 per ounce, silver rose 41 cents to $17.33 per ounce and copper rose 2 cents to $2.68 per pound.