Gains for AT&T and Boeing Help Lift U.S. Stocks Higher

stocks, markets, Wall Street
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stocks continue to reach record highs in midday trading Wednesday. Boeing and AT&T rose sharply after posting strong second-quarter results. Gains for chipmakers helped technology companies move higher. Treasury yields took a modest step backward as the Federal Reserve prepares to wrap up a two-day meeting on interest rates, which most investors expect to be uneventful.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,479 as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. It closed at a record Tuesday, as did several other major stock indexes.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 110 points, or 0.5 percent, to 21,723, and the Nasdaq composite rose 8 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,420.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,447.

LIFTOFF: Boeing’s stock was on pace for its best day in more than seven years after it raised its forecast for earnings this year and reported better-than-expected earnings for the second quarter. It rose $16.45, or 7.7 percent, to $228.91. The aerospace and defense giant was responsible for all of the gains in the 30-stock Dow Jones industrial average.

PICKUP: AT&T is on track for its biggest gain in eight years. It jumped $1.59, or 4.4 percent, to $37.81 after reporting stronger second-quarter profit than Wall Street had forecast. The phone and video company also said it is on track to complete its purchase of Time Warner before the end of the year. That would further diversify AT&T’s business as competition in the wireless industry gets more intense.

Time Warner picked up $1.61, or 1.6 percent, to $101.42.

Verizon also rose 34 cents to $44.32 as phone companies did far better than the broader market.

CHIPS ON TOP: Advanced Micro Devices soared to the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after it raised its forecast for full-year revenue growth and reported stronger-than-expected results for the second quarter. It jumped $1.05, or 8.5 percent, to $15.31. Texas Instruments advanced $1.53, or 1.9 percent, to $82.92 after its second-quarter report. Elsewhere Nvidia gained $2.28, or 1.4 percent, to $167.63.

HEALTH WOES: Health-care stocks moved lower as investors were mostly disappointed with reports or forecasts from biotechnology company Amgen, drug and medical device maker Baxter International, and scientific instrument and laboratory equipment maker Thermo Fisher. Amgen shed $4.86, or 2.7 percent, to $176.03. Baxter fell $1.43, or 2.3 percent, to $60.66. Thermo Fisher sank $5.76, or 3.2 percent, to $174.37.

LOOKING AHEAD: Akamai Technologies fell to the sharpest loss in the S&P 500 despite reporting better-than-expected second-quarter results. It gave a forecast for third-quarter revenue and other measures that were lower than analysts were expecting. Akamai fell $7.44, or 14 percent, to $45.84.

FED IN FOCUS: The Federal Reserve is wrapping up a policy meeting on interest rates, and most investors expect it to hold them steady after raising rates three times since December. Perhaps more interesting will be if the central bank says anything about its plans to trim its vast store of investments. The Fed has amassed a $4.5 trillion balance sheet after hoovering up bonds following the financial crisis in hopes of keeping interest rates low and helping the economy.

Some investors worry that markets are due to shake out of their unusually calm pattern as the Fed further raises rates and trims its balance sheet.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 2.33 percent. The two-year yield dipped to 1.38 percent from 1.39 percent, and the 30-year yield held steady at 2.92 percent.

MARKETS ABROAD: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.5 percent, South Korea’s Kospi index slipped 0.2 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.3 percent.

France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent, the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.2 percent and Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 percent.

COMMODITIES: The price of oil continued its recent ascent after the U.S. government said crude oil and gasoline stockpiles continued to shrink last week. Benchmark U.S. crude topped $48 per barrel for the first time in seven weeks. It climbed 53 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.42 a barrel and was on pace for its third straight gain. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 44 cents to $50.80 per barrel.

Natural gas fell 4 cents to $2.90 per 1,000 cubic feet, gold dropped $4.50 to $1,247.60 ounce and copper rose 3 cents to $2.88 per pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 112.04 Japanese yen from 111.89 yen late Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.1638 from $1.1652, and the British pound rose to $1.3064 from $1.3037.

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