S&P 500 Keeps Climbing as Calm Continues to Reign for Stocks


Stocks pushed further into record territory Tuesday, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index’s immaculate start to the year extended to a sixth day.

Health care stocks and banks led the way, as calm continues to reign over markets around the world. The strong gains overshadowed weakness for dividend-paying stocks and other areas of the market hurt by rising interest rates after 10-year Treasury yields hit their highest level since March.

The S&P 500 rose 3.58 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,751.29 to equal its longest winning streak leading off a year since 2010.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 102.80 points, or 0.4 percent, to 25,385.80, the Nasdaq composite gained 6.19 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,163.58 and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks slipped 1.71, or 0.1 percent, to 1,560.10.

They’re the latest steps higher for stocks, which have been rising at a remarkably steady pace for more than a year as investors bask in a global economy that’s strengthening in sync. Corporate profits are also on the upswing, and Washington’s recently approved tax cut should goose earnings even higher.

The powerful combination has kept markets marching higher, even though stock prices have grown to become more expensive than usual, relative to corporate profits.

“I would like to say that there’s something onerous coming, just because it would be different from what everyone is talking about,” said Nate Thooft, senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management. But he expects the market to continue gliding higher as the economy and corporate profits strengthen.

Health care stocks rose 1.1 percent for the biggest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500.

Boston Scientific was at the front of the pack after it gave preliminary results for its revenue last quarter that were stronger than Wall Street was expecting. The medical device company’s shares rose $2.15, or 8.3 percent, to $27.96.

Illumina likewise reported preliminary results for fourth-quarter revenue that topped analysts’ expectations. Shares of the company, which makes tools for genetic analysis, jumped $15.74, or 6.9 percent, to $242.80.

Companies are set to begin reporting their results for the last three months of 2017, and the pace will pick up later this week. They’ll need to deliver strong profit growth to justify the big moves they’ve made already.

Investors, though, are also interested in what CEOs say about how Washington’s overhaul of the tax system last month will affect their bottom lines.

Strategists at Goldman Sachs say the tax changes will account for more than a third of the 14 percent growth they’re forecasting for S&P 500 earnings per share in 2018.

Target cited taxes on Tuesday as one reason for raising its profit forecast for the year. It also became the latest retailer to say it enjoyed a strong shopping season, and its shares rose $1.96, or 2.9 percent, to $69.14.

On the losing end of the market were stocks that pay big dividends, which tend to move in the opposite direction of bond yields.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.55 percent from 2.48 percent late Monday. That makes dividend-paying stocks less attractive relative to bonds for investors seeking income.

Telecom stocks in the S&P 500 fell 1.8 percent for the worst performance in the index. Real-estate stocks lost 1.1 percent, and utilities dropped 1 percent.

Some areas of the market can benefit from rising interest rates. Banks can make bigger profits from making loans, for example, and financial stocks in the S&P 500 climbed 0.7 percent.

In markets abroad, Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.6 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent and the Shanghai Composite inched up 0.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.1 percent.

The CAC 40 in France rose 0.7 percent, the DAX in Germany rose 0.1 percent and the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.4 percent.

The dollar fell to 112.61 Japanese yen from 113.07 yen late Monday. The euro fell to $1.1933 from $1.1965, and the British pound dipped to $1.3534 from $1.3564.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose $1.23 to settle at $62.96 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.04 to settle at $68.82 per barrel.

Natural gas gained 9 cents to $2.92 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil rose 2 cents to $2.07 per gallon and wholesale gasoline climbed 4 cents to $1.84 per gallon.

Gold fell $6.70 to settle at $1,313.70 per ounce, silver dropped 13 cents to $17.01 per ounce and copper slipped a penny to $3.22 per pound.

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