Stocks Finish Mostly Higher as Tech And Media Companies Lead


U.S. stocks rose Wednesday as investors bet that technology companies and small, domestically-focused firms will continue to do well even if the trade dispute between the U.S. and China gets worse. Media companies jumped after Disney reached a new deal with Twenty-First Century Fox.

Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet led the rally in technology companies as the Nasdaq composite topped the all-time high it set last week.

Starbucks plunged to its lowest price in a year and a half after the company said its U.S. and China businesses both ran into trouble during the current quarter. That led to losses in other restaurant companies such as McDonald’s, which contributed to a small decline in the Dow Jones industrial average, its seventh straight down day.

Smaller and more U.S.-oriented companies such as retailers climbed. While technology companies are the biggest sector of the S&P 500 and make most of their sales overseas, just the opposite of small caps, investors feel that both types of stocks are less vulnerable to tariffs than industrial companies or household goods makers, among other sectors.

The S&P 500 index rose 4.73 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,767.32. The Nasdaq composite gained 55.93 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,781.51. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 13.54 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,706.99, also closing at a record high.

But the Dow industrials slipped 42.41 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,657.80. The Dow has fallen for seven days in a row, its worst streak in more than a year, although the losses have been fairly small.

Markets have been on edge with the U.S. and China announcing tariffs on each other’s imports and threatening more. While global stocks fell Tuesday, the S&P 500 finished with a loss of 0.4 percent as investors decided many U.S. industries don’t face a major threat from the proposals and that negotiations might take some of the sting out of the proposed taxes.

General Electric was part of the Dow when it was created in 1896, and it’s been a one of the 30 stocks on the index continuously since 1907. But GE has been selling businesses for a decade, reducing its value, and it’s by far the least expensive Dow stock. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the company over a $15 billion hit taken to cover miscalculations made within an insurance unit. Adjusted for inflation, GE was worth around $860 billion in mid-2000, but it’s worth about $112 billion now.

GE slipped 0.5 percent to $12.88. Walgreens, which replaces GE in the Dow on Tuesday, jumped 5.2 percent to $68.

U.S. crude rose 1.8 percent to $66.22 and Brent crude, the international standard for oil prices, lost 0.5 percent to $74.74 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline lost 0.7 percent to $2.02 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.7 percent to $2.11 a gallon. Natural gas jumped 2.2 percent to $2.96 per 1,000 cubic feet.